Officials blame new dispatch policy for longer ambulance times - KCTV5

Officials blame new dispatch policy for longer ambulance response times

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It's taking longer for Kansas City ambulances to respond to emergencies, and officials said it's all because of a dispatch policy implemented at the end of last year.

The city and the fire department have a long-established window of nine minutes in which an ambulance should arrive to someone in need. In 2011, before the new system was implemented, first responders hit that goal more than 86 percent of the time.

With the new system in place, since December 2011 to the present, that number has dropped significantly, down to more than 75 percent.

Under the new policy, more questions are asked up front before an ambulance is sent out, all to get a better read on a situation and arming EMTs with as much information as possible.

The numbers in the response times came from an audit by the city auditor. Kansas City, MO, City Councilman John Sharp said he feels it's working backwards and people should be assured an ambulance is on the way when they call 911.

"Once they told what the problem was and confirmed the address and then the dispatchers would try to keep them on the line to maybe give them pre-arrival instructions, walk them through CPR or ask them some more questions, but you could tell people, ‘Don't worry, it's OK to stay on the line because the ambulance is en route.' We can't tell them that anymore," Sharp said.

Sharp also said he wants to see a better breakdown of the data since the numbers covered the city overall. He said the numbers might actually be worse in some areas than others and he'll want that addressed.

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