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EMSA Increases Response Time Allowance

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahoma's largest ambulance service is changing its expectations on how long medics have to respond to emergencies.

Starting Nov. 1, in even for the most critical of calls, ambulances will be allowed two extra minutes to get to your front door. The concern is over whether or not the extra time allowance will result in an actual response time increase.

"I just hope they have a valid reason for it," concerned resident Clarence E. Jackson told News 9.

Others, like Edmond resident Brenda Myers, do not think it's a good idea. But EMSA says an additional time allowance doesn't necessarily mean longer wait times.

"I can absolutely assure the citizens that the paramedics will continue to hold the same sense of urgency," said medical director Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe.The time response limit for priority 1 calls will jump from nearly 8 min. 59 sec. to 10 min. 59 sec. For the suburbs, it's nearly 12 minutes.

"All you want to know is that the ambulance is coming and it's coming fast enough," said Jackson.

For non-life threatening situations, medics will no longer use lights and sirens and will be allowed to take nearly 25 minutes. EMSA's medical director says the change will keep the roadways safer.

"We want to get there safely to help people," said Goodloe. "We don't want to hurt people on the way. We don't want our paramedics hurt on the way."

EMSA says the extra time will save money because dollars must be dished out when medics go over time limits. The agency points to Evansville, Ind. where a study shows a 4 minute response time increase there had no effect on patient conditions. Regardless, some say there are better options.

"I think maybe [they] should hire more [paramedics], so the response time could be quicker because every minute counts," Myers said.

The change will not affect fire departments' response times, and EMSA says those medics are usually the first on scene. EMSA says it conducted a study through the University of Oklahoma before making the change to insure patients' health would not be impacted.

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