Seconds count: Johnson County EMS ready when lives at stake - KCTV5 News

Seconds count: Johnson County EMS ready when lives at stake

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A heartbreaking story in New Jersey has KCTV5 asking questions in the metro.

A hysterical wife pleaded with a dispatcher for an ambulance as her husband lay dying. Her husband had been shot in a mall parking garage during a carjacking.

It took the ambulance 18 minutes to get there. There are reports when they got there that the ambulance was too tall to get into the parking garage.

Just about every business garage in the metro has a clearance lower than the height of modern ambulances. But that's not likely to take much longer to get you on your way.

Battalion Chief Bob Rankin monitors dispatch calls as part of his job at Johnson County Med-Act and says crews are pretty familiar with where obstacles exist.

"Examples of that are like the trails through Shawnee Mission Park and around the county, which aren't easily accessed by an ambulance," Rankin said.

In those cases, dispatch calls for an ATV, a pickup or something as simple as a battalion chief's SUV.

"What we call Code 1 calls, our most critical calls, I'm automatically sent on those," Rankin said.

The SUV is fully stocked with almost all the same things as an ambulance.

"(It) has all of our medications, IVs, bandages, those sort of items. We have a cardiac monitor just like they do ... and then oxygen supply," he said.

The only key piece not included is a stretcher. In which case, a backboard fills in until first responders can get someone to the ambulance for transport.

"There are some delays that can occur for us to access the patient, but again, we are usually aware of them before we get there, and we do everything we can to minimize that delay," Rankin said.

To give some feel for clearance, at Oak Park Mall, it is 6'10". At the Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, it is 7'2". The Johnson County ambulances range from 10'6" in to 11'6".

Rankin said older ambulances have a lower profile, but they are not typically used anymore in big city departments.

In the New Jersey case, paramedics eventually reached the carjacking victim by rolling a stretcher up the entrance ramp, but the victim died.

The ambulance company has not commented on the response time.

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