The city council public safety committee called the hearing following an ABC40 investigation into AMR’S response times.
ABC40 learned last month that AMR in 2012, took over 10 minutes to respond to life threatening calls over 320 times. They are expected to respond to life threatening calls under 10 minutes 95% of the time.
Of those 320 plus times, AMR said 170 times that the nearest ambulance was too far from the call. Over 35 other times they listed the reason for long delays as “undetermined.”
Before a crowded room of city officials and EMTs, councilors peppered AMR management with questions Tuesday evening.
AMR stressed that they are compliant with their contract and believes they are a strong community partner, both in times of crisis and in helping local charities.
Still, Councilor Bud Williams says 300 excessive delays in one year is alarming.
“Some parts of the urban communities-the South End, some parts of the North End, and parts of Mason Square that they just don’t feel that these services are done in a very timely manner,” Williams said.
AMR says the number one reason for delays is that crews are too far from the calls. Other reasons are weather, heavy traffic, and GPS failure. But what exactly happens when long waits are deemed undetermined? The question wasn’t posed in the meeting, so we asked afterwards.
“If we don’t have the reason, I’m not going to make one up,” AMR Western Massachusetts General Manager David Pelletier said. “If it gets missed for whatever reason, I’m still not going to make up an answer for it.”
The city’s ambulance contract is awarded at no cost. AMR’s three year deal expires in September. Meaning, when the bid goes out for a new contract next week any other company can bid for it.
Pelletier says AMR will apply to keep the contract, but we asked if there are any other ways of decreasing the 300 plus above average calls.
“We look at our data on a regular basis. if we need to add units, we will add units,” Pelletier said. “If we need to reposition units, then we reposition our units.”
AMR’S average Priority 1 response is 6:41 seconds.
Williams says he’s pleased productive conversation began Tuesday. The Springfield EMS Commission says they have not received many complaints.Williams wants an easier process for citizens to provide feedback. He also still expects the dialogue with AMR to continue, including a written explanation of what the undetermined reasons in some of those delays could be.
The city’s EMS Commission will review all ambulance applicants that respond to the bid. The mayor has the final say who is awarded the contract.