Tulsa Fire Department concerned over EMSA delays in ambulance response times

TULSA - The ride in the back of an ambulance is one you hope you never have to take.

But if you do, you want the ambulance to get to you quickly.

"I would want them to be on time, that's for sure," said Tulsa Resident Rob Melton.

American Medical Response or AMR, took over the EMSA contract in November, replacing Paramedics Plus.

As part of the deal, response times would be increased by two minutes going from eight minutes and 59 seconds to 10 minutes and 59 seconds for an emergency, high-priority call.

RELATED STORY: Tulsa City Council votes in favor of extending EMSA response time

A document outlining the minutes of a Tulsa Fire Department staff meeting on March 10, 2014, obtained by the 2NEWS Investigators, shows an increase in delayed EMSA response times was discussed. According to the document, there were 26 reported delays in February .

Any time EMSA is late it can impact firefighters who must wait for the EMSA medics to arrive on the scene. Tulsa Fire Chief, Ray Driskell, declined an on-camera interview, but did talk to us by phone. He said any delay could be a concern to firefighters, that's why Tulsa Fire Department discussed the issue in its staff meeting.

Still, the Chief said, "I don't have any concerns right now."

He may not, but Councilor Jeannie Cue does. She's concerned about the firefighters.

"We want them to do their job, not pick up the slack for EMSA. So that's something we need to look into," said Cue.

We told Cue about the information we uncovered in the staff meeting minutes. It's something she's going to talk to EMSA about.

And remember that two minute increased response time? Cue wants to know if that's adding to even more delays, on the backs of firefighters.

"Has it put more stress on our fire department?," said Cue.

We also asked EMSA and AMR the same thing.

Both declined an on-camera interview. But both EMSA and AMR said they are meeting their response times at least 90 percent of the time, that's the amount required by the contract.

But for the people we talked to, the ones that could experience that ride someday in the back of an ambulance, any delay is one too many.

"If it was you being delayed on, you wouldn't to be the one where, oh, it just happened this one time. It shouldn't happen at all," said Melton.

The 2NEWS Investigators have also learned that EMSA is sending its Tulsa medics to the EMSA location in Oklahoma City, to make up for a medic need there.

However, EMSA says the medics are going on their off days, and it's not affecting staffing levels in Tulsa. Still, that's something Councilor Cue also wants to discuss with EMSA.

The 2NEWS Investigators will continue to follow this story and keep you updated.

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