Sept. 20--Deputy Fire Chief Scott Clark told councilors Thursday that it is impossible to know what impact extending EMSA's allowable response time to two minutes would have on the Fire Department.
"I think that the two minutes will have an impact on the Fire Department," Clark said. "The issue is determining what the impact is."
After the meeting, Clark said there could be instances when the extra two minutes might keep first responders at one site from responding immediately to a call at another site. In those instances, another unit would be sent out, Clark said.
"It is extremely hard to quantify that," he said. "Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? I don't know."
EMSA's board of trustees awarded a five-year, $247 million contract to ambulance service provider American Medical Response last month, lengthening the maximum allowable response times for EMSA ambulances.
The new contract sets the benchmark for life-threatening emergencies, designated as Priority 1 calls, at 10 minutes and 59 seconds. The previous maximum time allowable for Priority 1 calls was 8 minutes and 59 seconds.
EMSA officials have said previously that the additional allowable response time would decrease the likelihood of traffic accidents involving ambulances without compromising patient care.
Clark told councilors that just because the ambulance provider would have an extra two minutes to respond to a call does not mean the extra two minutes would be used.
In those instances when the extra two minutes are needed, the patient's care would not be compromised, Clark said.
"Maybe there is a two-minute longer wait for a transport, but we follow protocol that the doctor lays out, and all of those protocols are met before the transport takes place," he said. "There are a series of things that are done to a patient that is going to be transported, and we're involved in that, as well."
Councilors have been meeting with EMSA officials to discuss the allowable response time and other aspects of the new contract because they must be incorporated into the city's ordinances.
Should they not become part of the city's ordinances by Nov. 1, the EMSA board would have to take up the issue again as it relates to Tulsa, CEO Steve Williamson said after Thursday's meeting.
Oklahoma City has already agreed to the contract changes for EMSA service there.
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
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