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Council Members decry ambulance response times

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Posted at 11:44 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 23:44:29-04

Just a day after a man suffered first and second degree burns in a house fire, two Buffalo Common Council Members are calling on Rural/Metro to step up its first response service.

On Tuesday, Buffalo Fire responded to a house fire on Kail Street in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood.  According to neighbors, a fireman had to flag-down an ambulance that happened to be driving by, because an ambulance from Rural/Metro had not yet arrived at the scene.

The City of Buffalo contracts with Rural/Metro for ambulance service, and Buffalo Common Council Members Joseph Golombek (North District) and Christopher Scanlon (South District) say they are tired of hearing reports of Rural/Metro being late to the scene of an emergency.

"It fries me to no end," said Golombek. "There's always an excuse; there's always this reason. Well enough is enough."

Now, Golombek and Scanlon are calling on Rural/Metro to release the details of Tuesday's call and response to the Kail Street fire.

"Buffalo Fire was here on-time," Scanlon said. "If you listen to the radio call, they couldn't get an ambulance here on time. Thankfully another ambulance provider happened to be driving by, and thankfully they were able to respond to things."

Rural/Metro disputes that there was a problem. The company's Vice President of Operations, Mike Addario, provided this statement to 7 Eyewitness News:

During the Kail Street fire, the emergency response mutual aid system was tested in Buffalo, and it worked. Yesterday, during a spike in emergency calls, we needed backup help from our partner Twin City Ambulance, and today in Tonawanda we were able to provide mutual aid in their service area.

In the end, our goal is to make sure patients are treated and transported, and we are pleased that the mutual aid system worked the way it was designed.

We will be reviewing this incident with the Fire Commissioner.

Regardless, Golombek and Scanlon say they want the Kail Street incident investigated by both Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Emergency Medical Services Board. They're asking that Rural/Metro be fined if the investigation proves the company had an unacceptable response time.

"You hear, 'this might be an isolated incident,' and you hear it again, 'this is an isolated incident,'" Scanlon said. "I'm curious when it stops being an isolated incident and becomes a trend. This is what I want to end right now."