According to Ian Greenwald M.D. FACEP, Medical Director of Sandy Springs Fire Rescue and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Emory University, the clock for emergency response times starts when the 9-1-1 operator picks up the phone.
The 9-1-1 operator will ask a series of questions in an attempt to determine the acuity of the call. For example a complaint of chest pain is a high priority call whereas a sprained ankle would be considered low priority.
“We aim to provide ideal response times with maximum response for high priority calls with a pared down response for a lower priority call so the responders aren’t putting the public at risk when it’s not a life threatening emergency,” he said.
The operator must confirm location, get a call back number; identify the acuity of the medical emergency and provide instructions to those on the scene as well as dispatch the appropriate resources. All of this should take 30 to 60 seconds; in an extreme situation it can take up to two minutes.
“It’s a complex series events; the ability to perform that triage requires tremendous training and we are committed to maximizing the care we deliver in the streets,” Dr. Greenwald said. “We need quality assessment and oversight. It is our intention to review all calls so we know we are dealing with them in the most appropriate fashion.”
The time it takes from the dispatch of services to getting resources to the victim accounts for the rest of the response time. In many cases in Sandy Springs, due to a lack of north/south corridors, traffic congestion is often a factor working against the responders, Dr. Greenwald said. He said it often adds 60 to 90 seconds to response time.
Data pertaining to this information specifically has been limited coming from Fulton County to Sandy Springs.