DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The Decatur Morgan Ambulance Service (EMS) is facing a possible fine for failing to meet the city’s requirements for response time.
The failure is specified for Decatur Police jurisdiction and the incidents in question happened during the final quarter of 2022. The possibility of a fine came after this month’s council meeting, which analyzed response times in that specific area.
The city ordinance requires that the response time on 90% of emergencies in that jurisdiction during a quarter must be 13 minutes or less. EMS came in at 79% of police jurisdiction calls in October, 88% in November, and just 64% in December.
“With [a] huge psych population that we have right now, we go the long distance in transporting psych patients,” said Carrie Wynn, the service line director for EMS. “We go all the way to southeast Alabama so you can’t always predict when those calls are going to come in.”
“So with police jurisdiction, which are a little further out of the city for us to have to go to,” Wynn continued. “Your best laid plans or your predictions of where you would have to be don’t always help you when you get that call that there’s not a truck close enough.”
“The biggest struggle with meeting response times is that predictability of calls,” Wynn said.
Violating the response time requirement in one quarter results in a $5,000 fine and five points on a scale that measures performance.
While the numbers reflect poorly on requirements, the city says EMS has brought along substantial improvements in less than a year of operation.
“The cooperation between the fire department and ambulance service has dramatically increased,” said Decatur City Attorney Chip Alexander. “I hear positive things from the fire department, the best thing that I can say about the ambulance service now is that I’m not hearing about it up here I like I did before.”
“I think the level of service has increased and whether they make their times for that quarter or not,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s going to change, I think they’ll correct it and the service we are getting from them is very good and something the city can be proud of.”
A bright spot for EMS — they’re hitting all the performance goals within the Decatur city limits. The official determination of its response time review will happen on February 14.