Sapulpa Fire Department Stops Responding To County Medical Calls
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma - The Sapulpa Fire Department is no longer responding to medical calls outside the city limits. That means people who live in Creek County will likely have to wait longer for help.
They're worried about what this will mean the next time they call 911.
If you live or work in Creek County and are having a heart attack or other medical emergency, an ambulance will still be dispatched, but neighbors say, typically, firefighters get there faster; and those few minutes are crucial when you’re dealing with life and death.
There are four fire stations in Sapulpa, a few of them sit right by the county line, and if one of the neighbors across the street called 911 for chest pains, firefighters just 100 feet away couldn't go help.
"We've had four instances with my parents that needed assistance, and with each one the fire department has been there multiple minutes before the ambulance service arrives," said resident Shaun Rankin.
Rankins' business and his parents’ home are outside the city limits, and he’s worried about the next time one of them has a medical emergency.
"I don't think we have adequate ambulance service as it is, the fire responding as well adds to that," said Rankin.
County businesses and homeowners pay an annual “outside fire run fee” which pays for fire protection, but this year the agreement changed.
Rankin said, "There's no reduction in the rate for everybody, but the service has been cut tremendously, in my opinion."
The previous agreement said fire protection included "fire suppression and/or life-saving or assistance efforts."
The new one says, "fire suppression and/or life-saving or assistance efforts rendered in connection with fire suppression service."
It means firefighters will respond to fires or fire-related injuries, but no other medical calls in the county.
"We think it's been a poor job on the City of Sapulpa’s part getting the message across," Rankin said.
We contacted the City, and Sapulpa’s city attorney said the contract never covered medical response in the county.
The fire chief said he believes the changes were made to save the city money.
It will also change the way firefighters respond to medical emergencies out on the roads. They will always come to accidents involving an injury, but if someone was choking on a county street and called 911, they'd have to wait for a county ambulance to arrive.