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Buffalo Ambulance Shows Up 40 Minutes Late

They Were Busy Elsewhere

THE BUFFALO, NEW YORK, CITY COUNCIL is learning what "preserving limited resources" means when it comes to contracted ambulance service.   Last year the City Council contracted with Rural/Metro to operate the city's emergency ambulance service and two weeks ago Rural/Metro released a statement touting their success operating in the city:

Rural/Metro successfully transitioned assignment of ambulance responsibilities from Erie County leading to improved dispatch and quicker response to calls requiring Advanced Life Support services.

"Rural/Metro continually adjusts our ambulance deployment plan to ensure excellent response times and we have highly trained professionals ready to respond every day, every time of the day," Jay Smith, Division General Manager of Rural/Metro Medical Services of Buffalo said in a news release. "Working with the ambulance board, we adjusted the system to optimize response times, which has shown very positive results in patient outcomes.

"Our success in serving Buffalo is a direct result of our excellent working relationship with the Board, the Fire Department and our talented, dedicated employees who are focused on providing clinical excellence to all our customers."

Buffalo News

Friday afternoon a 9-1-1 call came from the Erie County library in downtown Buffalo just before 1 pm for a patron having seizures.  WGRZ-TV describes what happened next:

In Buffalo, the fire department also responds to medical emergencies. Firefighters arrived at the library within three minutes at 12:58pm. They treated the patient.  The ambulance did not come until 1:43pm, or a full 48 minutes after the call.

While firefighters are able to provide medical treatment, their training is often limited. Also, they're not allowed to take a patient to the hospital.

"Eight minutes is the time they're supposed to respond," Buffalo Common Council Member David Franczyk said. "And, anything more than eight minutes is a problem. If you add 40 to that eight, it's a disaster."

Rural/Metro says that at the time of the call it was responding to 10 other emergencies in the city. Also, the dispatch office determined the emergency at the library was not life-threatening, meaning, it did not need to send an emergency crew immediately unless the situation changed.

"If this is a one-time only, it's a dangerous one-time only," Franczyk said. "They should do everything in their power to make sure that never happens again. And if there is a pattern of it, that's scary."

Rural/Metro says its average response time for emergencies in Buffalo is seven minutes, but acknowledges it has had other "extended calls" like the one on Friday.

The Buffalo City Council seems to be surprised at this.

Firegeezer is puzzled, too.  If the city needs help at a fire, then they call a neighboring town to send help.  So if they need help at a medical emergency, then why don't they call a neighboring town for that as well?   Did nobody think of that?

Read the entire story posted by WGRZ-TV HERE.

Last month the Buffalo News reported HERE on an FBI investigation into Rural/Metro Western New York's billing practices.

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