Buffalo EMS board questioning Rural/Metro about response times

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 10:55:19-04

The Buffalo EMS board met Monday morning and decided to send a letter of inquiry to Rural/Metro questioning emergency response times.

"It's been several months now since we signed a new contract with them, we've been monitoring response times and working with them to help implement things in the new contract," said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.

Commissioner Whitfield is referring to the contract Rural/Metro signed with the city of Buffalo in October of last year. One thing the contract requires is that the ambulance provider set response time minimums, which right now aren't being met in some areas.

"The board feels that we have given them sufficient time now to meet the requirements of the contract," said Commissioner Whitfield. "They're supposed to meet these things 90 percent of the time so they're not in the 90th percentile."

"Categories are broken up three ways ALS - life threatening, ALS - non-emergency and BLS," said Thomas Maxian the regional director for Rural/Metro.

Maxian admits the company is performing below par when responding to "advanced life support" calls, which Commissioner Whitfield said are the most serious.

"There was a fire at 128 Kail Street, a burn victim and there was no car available," said Commissioner Whitfield.

He said a Twin City ambulance responded to that call on a Tuesday afternoon almost two weeks ago. The Commissioner said it took twin cities 5 to 6 minutes to respond after being dispatched, but where was Rural/Metro?

"We had to ambulances on the way when the calls came out as cold calls because they were for a fire with no report of injury or person trapped," said Maxian. "Two other calls came at the same time so the ambulances got sent to the other hot calls."

Commissioner Whitfield acknowledges that this is a transitioning period for Rural Metro after a change of ownership.

"New leadership, new equipment," said Commissioner Whitfield. "There's a number of new commitments that we're very excited about in terms of data sharing."

"We've just graduated 25 people from our EMT class. We'll have them on the street beginning in August," said Maxian. "We also have 17 people who we're sponsoring for paramedic class starting in the fall. So we're taking care of our short-term recruiting needs and we're now building for our long-term needs."

When Rural/Metro receives the letter of inquiry it has 30 days to respond.