EMS chief responds to Strasburg Twp. concerns BY MICHAEL CLEMENTS, Correspondent
The head of the Lancaster EMS is reaching out to a Strasburg Township couple unhappy with the response time for a recent incident.
Lancaster EMS Executive Director Robert May told township supervisors in Feb. 4 that his agency was criticized by an unnamed resident who said it took more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to reach her home after her husband had a stroke, and then she arrived at the hospital before the ambulance.
May said he would like to speak with the couple, either in private or in public, because they are owed an explanation.
"You deserve an answer, and I will get you one," May said.
He said he believed he knew which call was being discussed, and said it was the agency's fault.
"My leadership style is transparent," May said. "If we make a mistake, I'm going to admit it and then fix it."
May said that the senior dispatcher on that call decided not to use GPS because she believed she knew the address. However, she made a mistake and ended up at the wrong location. The ambulance also apparently made a wrong turn on the way to the hospital.
May said that LEMSA has addressed the issue and changed some of its internal policies to ensure that the same mistake will not happen again.
He did contend, however, that the delay in response time was exaggerated, saying it was only about eight minutes.
"I know when you're waiting for an ambulance, nine minutes can feel like 40 minutes," he said. "I understand."
Both May and the supervisors expressed interest in setting up a meeting where May could sit down with the couple involved in the incident and give them the explanation that he felt they deserved.
LEMSA handles 34,000 dispatches a year, and May said that the agency has only received seven complaints.
"We get positive phone calls every week," he added. "We're proud of the service we provide, but we aren't perfect. We have had seven complaints, and each one deserves 100 percent of our attention."
He thanked the supervisors for bringing the issue to his attention, saying that he appreciates that they care and are willing to ask the hard questions, because they should.
The supervisors also raised the concern local residents had over whether there is always an ambulance housed in Strasburg.
May said the only time Strasburg Township does not have 24/7 service is when the ambulance is responding to an earlier call or providing mutual aid to a neighboring township.
He said that by law, when the 911 center dispatches an ambulance, the agency cannot refuse. Strasburg does receive coverage from neighboring townships.
May also emphasized that Strasburg Township has better coverage than ever before. When the Strasburg station merged with LEMSA in 2002, the unit housed there was upgraded from basic service to advanced life support service.
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