Rural Metro explains delay in response time

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More details are surfacing as to why it took a Rural Metro ambulance 48 minutes to get to the scene of a car crash in north Buffalo on Monday.

Rural Metro told News 4 on a typical Tuesday morning in May it expects to get about seven calls. That number is determined by looking at call data from the previous 20 days as well as the volume on that day one year ago.

“We staff to meet that demand and then a percentage beyond that, typically we would have about 14 vehicles,” said Mike Addario, the vice president of operations for New York and Ohio. He couldn’t tell us specifically how many crews were in service when Tuesday’s accident happened.

Addario said that morning there was a spike of 23 calls, which is why it took so long for a crew to get to the 90-year-old woman who crashed.

“We were informed the patient had minor injuries so we had to divert resources to more acute patients,” said Addario. “We activated internal aid resources and then I believe attempts were made to use mutual aid as well.”

External mutual aid is the term used when ambulances from other agencies help respond to calls.

Rural Metro is investigating why, despite all of that, it still took 48 minutes to get to this crash.

Council Member Michael LoCurto represents the area where this accident happened. He said there needs to be enough ambulances to meet call demand even when there are spikes in calls.

“There’s concerns about making sure the right people are responding to the more serious injuries but still even a car accident, over 45 minutes is just not acceptable,” he said.

City administrators are currently negotiating a new contract with the company.

News 4 discovered the current contract with Rural Metro does not specify how many crews need to be in service on any given day. The company said the new contract it’s negotiating will require at least 10-17 crews to be in service on any given shift.

Rural Metro also said there will be response time standards included in the contract. City administrators confirmed this and told us there are also stricter penalties if the standards are not met.

The new contract still needs to go to the Common Council for approval.

“If this issue is not addressed and spelled out in that contract in some tangible way we can understand, I for one will not be voting for it,” said Common Council President Darius Pridgen.

He also wants a provision included that says, “if those response times are not being adhered to that there is a clause in this contract that allows us to come back and have the option to look at another company.”

Pridgen submitted a request on Wednesday that asked the company to appear before the Common Council to “discuss response time regarding their contract to serve as the City of Buffalo’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider.”

“I expect for them to tell us immediately and quickly what they’re going to do to improve service times to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” said.

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