Month of May proves challenging for KCFD

Posted June 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

By LESLIE COLLINS
Northeast News
June 26, 2013

Ambulance response times increased in May as a result of a 10 percent increase in call volume compared to April, said Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) Deputy Chief Donna Maize during the city’s June 19 Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee meeting.

“A 10 percent increase in call volume kind of stretches our resources a little bit,” she said.

City ordinance requires that ambulances respond to life threatening emergencies in 9 minutes or less 85 percent of the time in each ambulance district and in 9 minutes or less citywide 90 percent of the time.

In May, KCFD met that mark in two out of the four ambulance districts. KCFD responded to life threatening emergencies within 9 minutes or less 74.6 percent of the time in Ambulance Response District (ARD) 1 (Northland); 86.6 percent of the time in ARD 2 (Central); 80.4 percent in ARD 3 (East side) and 74.4 percent in ARD 4 (South side). Citywide, KCFD met the requirement 80.1 percent of the time.

Some of the longer response times resulted from ambulances already running another call, she said.

For the three month average, ARD 1 met the goal 75.9 percent of the time; ARD 2, 88.2 percent; ARD 3, 82.3 percent; ARD 4, 75 percent.

KCFD is continuing to search for ways to improve response times and has already seen success with its newly implemented Advanced Life Support (ALS) Pumper Project, said Chief Paul Berardi. What began as a 90-day project will now become a permanent staple, he said.

Two pumper trucks are now categorized as ALS pumpers, instead of Basic Life Support pumpers, and each includes a trained paramedic who can provide advanced life support to the patient. The two pumpers are located at 111th and Oak in ARD 1 and at Hillcrest and Bannister in ARD 4, two of the most challenging geographical areas for KCFD. In late October or November, KCFD will increase its ALS pumpers to three.

KCFD began the ALS pumper project on Feb. 24, 2013. From the end of February through May 3, the two pumper trucks responded to 348 calls. Of those calls, 248 resulted in transports to area hospitals. On average for the month of March, the pumper trucks arrived on scene 3 minutes and 9 seconds before the ambulance, and in April they arrived 3 minutes, 30 seconds prior to the ambulance.

“This is a good indication these are having an impact on our ability to hit those response times,” Berardi said.

When pumper trucks arrive quicker, it reduces the time on scene to assess and treat the patient, helping the patient arrive to the hospital faster, he said. Also reduced was the “time to 12-lead,” which is the time it takes for a pumper to arrive on scene and hook up a patient to a 12-lead monitor.

While reviewing the data from the ALS pumper project, Berardi said he did not find a single negative.

“By and large we believe this is a positive project and we think it still needs more evaluation, but we’re going to continue the process,” Berardi said.