Rescue workers responding to a breathing problem late Sunday almost became victims themselves when someone fired a shot at a Gold Cross ambulance and the personnel rendering first aid nearby.
A single slug from an unknown caliber weapon was found lodged in the front seat of the ambulance just after 11 p.m. in a Kearns neighborhood near 4700 West and 4700 South.Once word of the shooting reached a dispatch center, officials called out the Salt Lake County Sheriff's SWAT team to search for a suspect, Lt. Larry Marx said.
As many as seven medical response technicians and other personnel were on scene at the time of the shooting after initially getting a call to assist an individual who was having respiratory problems, Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Frank Dalton said.
There were no injuries reported.
"It appears they were outside near the ambulance and other rescue vehicles at the time," Dalton said. A county fire engine and paramedic rescue unit from Station No. 9 in Kearns responded with the Gold Cross unit.
The shooting left officials scratching their heads.
"We're always going into dangerous situations, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, of someone shooting at an ambulance. That's pretty low," Dalton said.
The SWAT team searched a home and the surrounding area where they believe the shot came from but did not locate anything, Marx said. An initial investigation showed the bullet struck the right front fender of the vehicle below the windshield and fragmented into the driver's side seat.
One official with Gold Cross said workers were shaken from the incident but remained positive and resolved to continue performing their duties.
"Like the other emergency medical service agencies, we're in the business to provide service to those who need it, and we'll keep doing that," said Mike Reynolds, director of community relations.
Nearby neighbor Lee Cloward said he was in bed when he heard the shot.
"It's happened before. We've had shots at the corner at the Circle K and there are a lot of drugs going in where they think the shot came from last night," Cloward said.
Cloward said a friend who works at a police dispatch center called him and told him to stay put "because the SWAT team was coming out."
Marx said the special operations team was requested due to the nature of the incident.
"We get a lot of drive-bys (shootings) in that area, but this is pretty crazy, to be shooting at an ambulance," Marx said. "Still, I think it's a random thing."
Investigators continued to search for leads and possible suspects Monday morning.