Blair response time second in Pa.

Stats show county ambulances faster than all except Delaware

State Department of Health statistics for 2018 show that Blair County ambulances — including AMED, which handles 80 percent or more of the calls — arrive at emergency scenes after being dispatched faster than those in any other county except Delaware, said AMED Executive Director Gary Watters on Monday.

The median response time in Blair is 6.22 minutes, compared to Delaware County’s 6.00 minutes, according a chart in the Health Department’s Year End EMS Data Report.

Lackawanna County is next at 6.62 minutes, while Sullivan County is slowest at 24 minutes.

Blair County is also second in average response time at 7.65 minutes to Delaware County’s 6.71 minutes.

The median time is the time listed in the middle for all a company’s response times — with an equal number of faster and slower times.

The average is the time resulting from the addition of all times divided by the number of entries.

The Health Department clearly gives precedence to the median times, using them, rather than the average times, in a graphical map within the report.

Using the median eliminates the skewing of results based on outliers — particularly large response times for distant outlying areas.

For AMED, those longer response times can be 15 to 18 minutes, on trips from the Tyrone substation to Franklin Township in Huntingdon County, from the Roaring Spring substation to Claysburg and from the Tyrone and Bellwood substations to Reade Township and Irvona, Watters said.

Reflective of those long distances is AMED’s 90th percentile response time — the time within which 90 percent of calls are answered.

It’s 13.48 minutes, also second to Delaware County’s, which is 10 minutes.

The key to good response times is not driving fast, but getting out the door quickly, Watters told the board.

“Our goal it to be out within a minute,” Watters said after the meeting.

AMED crews are generally “very close” to ideal, he said.

The key in turn to getting out the door quickly — a good “chute time” — is readiness, he said.

It’s “stressed daily,” he said.

Being ready requires that all equipment, including what was used in the most recent run, is back in service before the next alarm sounds, he said.

All the equipment needed for any run is already on the ambulances, he said.

There were 2.1 million ambulance calls in the state last year, according to Watters.

AMED handled 18,009 of those, he said.

The county as a whole handled 19,784, which means AMED was responsible for 91 percent, according to the state chart.

The calls from some other county ambulance services may have been undercounted, however, Watters said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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