As the primary provider of emergency medical services in Oklahoma, EMSA is now planning to extend the allowed response times to medical emergencies by two minutes. The change is raising questions among many, including the Tulsa Fire Department.
"Do we have resources that would be committed to a scene longer? Um, we're not sure," said Michael Baker with TFD, who says, it is a matter of uncertainty, at this point.
With EMSA extending its response times for medical emergencies by two minutes, first responders with the fire department are questioning what the 'ripple effects' may be.
The change comes as EMSA signs on with a new ambulance service provider, allowing for a maximum response time of 10 minutes, 59 seconds -- up from the current standard of 8 minutes, 59 seconds.
Baker says the fire department does not have the same technology as EMSA -- allowing them to track different factors in an emergency response.
As the first responders dispatched to the most life-threatening emergencies, Baker says the fire department could end up on scene longer, waiting for an ambulance to arrive. For an already-stretched system, he says that is an issue that needs to be addressed.
"The question is, is that, what do we have in place to monitor that? To make sure that when we come back after this change, we have not caused an impediment to fire department operations, that we are not on scene waiting for transport units, and it's really coming to the point of -- you know -- let's have a dialogue and a discussion about how we're going to monitor that in the future," Baker said.
KTUL reached out to EMSA multiple times Friday for their side of the story, but our calls were not returned.
The response time changes are expected to take effect, November 1.