Stolen ambulance returned to service in Reading

Stolen ambulance returned to service in Reading

READING, Pa. - Emergency personnel are rethinking their tactics following the theft of an ambulance while on an emergency call in Reading.

It started like any other call for paramedics in Reading as they rushed to North Fifth and Washington streets Saturday morning to help someone, but what they were not prepared for was to walk out of the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and find their ambulance gone.

"Very surprised. Very surprised," said First Deputy Chief Jim Conrad, who heads the city's EMS division.

Kevin Fountain jumped in the front seat of the ambulance with his two dachshunds and took the ambulance for a spin, police said.

Fountain drove for more than 10 miles before police were able to stop him by putting down spike strips in Exeter Township.

The ambulance was unlocked when it was stolen.  

"A lot of times the ambulances do not get locked because they are in a hurry to get to the patient and offer them the aide they need right away," said Conrad.

Reading ambulances have responded to about 210,000 calls since 2001, Conrad said, and this was the first time one was ever stolen, but it is not the first time an ambulance has been taken in Reading.   

In March 2013, a Western Berks ambulance was stolen in the city.

Conrad said the ambulances not only carry precious cargo, but they are precious cargo themselves. Valued at $180,000, they carry narcotics and medication for the patients, so Conrad spoke with the fire chief and they are talking about deploying different locking mechanisms to secure the ambulances.

"Our main purpose is patient first and getting to the patient as fast as possible, but unfortunately in this time and age, you have to make sure you secure all of your equipment as well," said Conrad.

The suspect, Kevin Fountain, is facing a several charges, including receiving stolen property and fleeing police.

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