EMSA increases response times

Most will agree seconds count when there's a life threatening emergency, but Oklahoma City and Tulsa's ambulance provider, EMSA plans to increase medical response times.

Starting on November 1, 2013, EMSA's response time will be 10 minutes and 59 seconds for Priority 1 calls, which is EMSA's most critical calls. These critical cases include heart attacks, strokes, and trauma from motor vehicle accidents.

"Critical response time difference, actually lies not at the 8, 9, 10, or 11 minute range, it lies at the 4-5 minute range," explained Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, EMSA's Medical Director.

Dr. Goodloe says scientific data shows ambulance arrival times are not as important as performing CPR and first aide in life threatening situations. Oklahoma City Fire Department says when seconds matter, fire crews are typically first to respond.

"We can do just about everything EMSA can do with the exception of transport," said Deputy Chief Marc Woodard, of Oklahoma City Fire Department, "they are the transport service."

Chief Woodard says Oklahoma City Fire Department's average response time is 4 minutes and 42 seconds.

"Sometimes we're there within a minute or two especially in the Downtown district," he said.

EMSA officials say the increased medical response times will protect emergency medical technicians and the drivers who pull over when the sirens sound.

"Speed can save a life, it can also take one too," said Dr. Goodloe, "and we've got to be very careful in our thought about that."

EMSA's decision to increase response times came with a decision to grant a 5-year contract to American Medical Response for ambulance services. EMSA's previous ambulance provider was Paramedics Plus.