Jackie Jackson gets special treatment

August 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) Chicago Fire Department rules and regulations explicitly state that requests for non-emergency transports by city ambulances must be denied without the approval of the fire commissioner or his designee. That is just what happened over the weekend, when special treatment was afforded to Jacqueline Jackson, the wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson who had broken her leg a few days earlier during a trip to Africa.

Jackie Jackson broke her leg last Thursday during the Jacksons visit to Ivory Coast, Africa. It happened when a stage collapsed under too much weight and movement from enthusiastic attendees and dancers. She was removed from the wreckage and taken to a local hospital. The leg was set and cast there.

When she arrived at O'Hare via Air France on Saturday afternoon, a private ambulance was awaiting her arrival, which would be the usual transport method to a hospital for a private citizen according to fire department sources. But then a city ambulance arrived and ended up taking her to Northwestern Hospital downtown.

A fire department spokesman says deputy commissioner Mark Levinson authorized ambulance two from the Cumberland stationhouse to be pressed into what is called 'special duty' to meet Mrs. Jackson's jetliner from Paris.

A paramedic-service source familiar with the O'Hare pick-up says normally special duty is reserved for well-being visits, gas and tune-up checks-not the non-emergency transport of VIPs.

The city's fire department spokesman, who is himself on mandated furlough, maintains that the use of city ambulances is totally at the discretion of the fire department. He says the Jacksons will receive a bill from the city for the ride, which described as "basic life supports services."

I spoke to the Rev. Jackson on the phone on Monday afternoon. He says that he considered the transport of his wife from O'Hare to be an emergency that they flew a doctor home with her on the plane because the tibia and fibula breaks were so serious. Mrs. Jackson stayed overnight at Northwestern and is now home.

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