The Edmond Sun

October 14, 2013

Official: EMSA change won’t alter Edmond Fire responses

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Policy changes regarding local ambulance response times won’t alter how the Edmond Fire Department approaches medical calls, a fire official said.

Starting Nov. 1, in Oklahoma City, Edmond and Tulsa, Priority 1 call response times will be 10 minutes and 59 seconds and 24 minutes and 59 seconds for Priority 2 calls, according to EMSA.

For the suburbs of the metro areas, Priority 1 call response times will be 11 minutes and 59 seconds and 24 minutes and 59 seconds for Priority 2 calls. Oklahoma City-area suburbs include Edmond, Bethany, Lake Aluma, Mustang, Nichols Hills, Piedmont, The Village, Warr Acres and Yukon. Tulsa-area suburbs include Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs.

Priority 1 calls are critical situations such as heart attacks, strokes, drownings and traumatic motor vehicle collisions, according to EMSA. Priority 2 calls are non life-threatening situations such as falls, broken limbs and minor injury motor vehicle collisions.

EMSA Oklahoma City, a public trust authority of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, manages ambulance service to more than 1.5 million-plus residents in central and northern Oklahoma, Medical Director Jeffrey Goodloe, who oversees patient care within the 16-city EMSA service area, said in a previous report.

Regarding public safety, Goodloe said he worries about the safety of medical personnel and the public as personnel travel to calls trying to meet well intentioned response standards, but not clinically validated response standards. The change will help provide a safer system while ensuring continued quality service for all patients, Goodloe said.

The local EMS system involves a robust system of 911 dispatchers who give pre-arrival instructions and first responders.

Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades said the Edmond Fire Department responds to both Priority 1 calls and Priority 2 calls. They include full cardiac arrest to a lift assist or someone that’s just not feeling well that day, Rhoades said. This is done since there could be an underlying condition, he said.  

“That’s what our system deserves and that’s what it expects,” Rhoades said. “When that person dials 911 that is their worst day. We come in and deliver that customer service.”

Edmond and EMSA receive calls at the same time and both converge on a scene, Rhoades said. Edmond personnel usually arrive first due to the strategically placed fire stations, Rhoades said.

“We start delivering that care,” he said. “Once they get there, we transfer that care.”

The Fire Department works 500-600 calls for service a month, with about 80 percent of those being EMS calls, Rhoades said. Of those, about 40 percent are concurrent calls, Rhoades said. Measures are taken to ensure the Edmond Police Department has personnel ready when needed if EMSA units are busy, he said.

Rhoades said the Fire Department stresses always being prepared and trying to deliver paramedic-level service on every fire engine. Rhoades said the agency has about 10 paramedics per shift, and the emphasis is having a trained paramedic at every scene.

Rhoades said the EFD breaks down response times to see where service can improve. How the EMSA response time changes will affect the Edmond Fire Department is not yet known, Rhoades said. Officials will wait and see. | 341-2121, ext. 108