The Edmond Sun

September 17, 2013

EMSA: Response times to intentionally increase

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Enhanced road safety for medical personnel and the general public are part of EMSA’s intentional increase in response times, the agency says.

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, said Medical Director Jeffrey Goodloe, MD, who oversees patient care within the 16-city EMSA service area.

The local EMS system involves a robust system of 911 dispatchers who give pre-arrival instructions and first responders who are required to respond within the first five minutes, Goodloe said.

Goodloe said he is completely comfortable with the change in response time standards.

“They honestly do not confer a detriment to clinical outcomes,” he said. “The reason I know that is because there is good science that backs that up.”

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.

Starting Nov. 1, In Oklahoma City, Edmond and Tulsa, the response for Priority 1 calls 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 calls will be 11 minutes and 59 seconds and 24 minutes and 59 seconds for Priority 2 calls. Oklahoma City-area suburbs include 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, Goodloe said. Priority 2 calls are non life-threatening situations such as falls, broken limbs and minor injury motor vehicle collisions.

Goodloe said research shows that critical response time difference exists not within the 8-11 minute range, but in the 4-5 minute range. Goodloe said EMSA is able to meet the lower range due to its working with local fire departments, which position stations with response times in mind.

The Edmond Fire Department, which declined to comment for this report, strategically placed five stations round the city. Goodloe said in 85-90 percent of the calls, local fire departments arrive on scene within 4-5 minutes.

Goodloe said ambulances are purposefully placed in areas with the greatest number of calls. Contractor Paramedics Plus, an EMS system management organization, has performed well, helping ensure clinical successes, Goodloe said.

EMSA commissioned an independent, third-party study of best practices for emergency medical service providers from across the country. The OU School of Community Medicine authored the study and recommended EMSA increase allotted response times.

The Medical Control Board reviewed the recommendation and also endorsed the change. In light of the latest scientific research, ambulance services across the country are increasing response times. | 341-2121, ext. 108