Decatur city officials want to improve ambulance service response times

Decatur City Council and Decatur Fire & Rescue start new draft ordinance for emergency response times to be faster.

Posted: Apr 1, 2019 5:12 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2019 7:01 PM

Changes are coming to the way ambulances operate in Decatur.

The city council and fire department want to lower response times and impose fines if ambulances are late. WAAY 31 looked into why some people say the changes are necessary.

First Response provides ambulance service to the city. The company said it's looking forward to working with the city so both parties will be happy, and something like a police motorcade could help accommodate faster response times.

City leaders say all options are on the table.

"It's not whether you want to have it right, we just got to work harder to make it right," said Decatur Fire Chief, Anthony Grande.

Right now, the City of Decatur says the average response time for an ambulance is about 9 minutes. The city says it should be 8 minutes, so it wants to reduce those times and impose fines when they're missed. Fines would range from $2,000 up to $25,000.

Fire Chief Anthony Grande said the current draft is just the beginning.

"This is a draft. There's time to talk about it and time to review. If the council likes the certain provisions and they don't like other provisions, then we can work on those," said Grande.

First Response didn't want to go on camera, but said its average response time is actually about 8 and a half minutes.

One man, Miguel Rodriguez, said he has needed First Response's services in the past, and the response times need to be lowered. He said the city should think about things that can slow an ambulance down, like drivers not moving over.

"Somebody's life is at jeopardy every moment that we go behind the wheel, and that's just really important to always be aware of," said Rodriguez.

Councilman Billy Jackson said the new guidelines aren't meant to hurt First Response, but to hold them accountable. People in Decatur say it's a no-brainer.

"You always want to have the best result possible, and having those times lowered would help out people's lives," said Rodriguez.

"The sooner we can get patients to definitive care and what we call definitive care is a hospital or a different place that makes a difference," said Fire Chief Grande.

Councilman Jackson and Chief Grande said they will be sitting down with First Response to talk more about provisions. They aren't looking to do away with the private company, just make improvements.

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