The Anne Arundel County Fire Department today reported it has witnessed a 27 percent decrease in average paramedic response times over the last 12 months due to improvements in Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance service. Additionally, the department has seen a 21 percent decrease of 90th-percentile response times for the arrival of paramedic level care to incident scenes.
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the most critical service the county provides to our citizens – public safety – and I am so proud of our Fire Department for implementing best practices that better enable it to save lives quickly,” said County Executive Laura Neuman. “I am especially proud of Fire Chief Michael Cox, who brought about these improvements in part by deferring the purchase of a tower ladder truck to reallocate the funding for six new ambulances.”
Because medical emergencies account for 85 percent of the calls to which the department responds, the six Basic Life Support units were purchased to meet the county’s growing need for ambulance service.
“The initiative to provide additional Basic Life Support units for BLS calls has significantly increased Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit availability for more serious and life-threatening calls,” said Fire Chief Michael Cox. “The increased number of BLS units allows our paramedic units to remain available in their primary response areas for life-threatening and critical calls.”
An additional five Basic Life Support units are slated to be placed in service this fall. “Once these units are in service, we should meet the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for ALS response time for the first time in the department’s 50-year history,” Chief Cox highlighted.
A citizen report of ALS response times using data from the fourth quarter of 2010 showed that the average ALS response time in Anne Arundel County was 7.75 minutes. The average response time for an ALS unit in the first three-quarters of 2014 decreased more than two minutes to 5.67 minutes, a 27 percent improvement.
National Fire Protection Association’s Standard 1710 recommends an eight-minute 90th-percentile response time for ALS units. In the 2010 report, the county’s 90th-percentile response time was 12.52 minutes. In the first three-quarters of 2014, that time has dropped 21 percent to 9.85 minutes, a nearly three-minute improvement.
The response time improvements, paired with the implementation of the Rapid Dispatch Protocol that substantially reduced 911 call processing time, have decreased the time from 911 call to ALS unit arrival time by almost three minutes over the last 14 months.