Fire Medical, police report 2013 response times

Response times to structure fires were about a half-minute off Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical’s goal last year, while the Lawrence Police Department reported faster response times for emergency calls.

Fire Medical reported responding to structure fires in 6 minutes, 58 seconds on average, higher than the agency’s goal of 6.5 minutes. The Police Department averaged 4 minutes 16 seconds for the highest-priority calls, Police Chief Tarik Khatib said.

The police department’s goal is to come in under five minutes — a figure slightly less than the 2012 average of 5 minutes 25 seconds achieved by the 29 police departments that participate in an annual Benchmark City Survey, Khatib said. Overland Park and Olathe’s Police Departments also participated: Olathe’s average response time for the highest priority calls was 4 minutes 46 seconds in 2012 and Overland Park’s was 6 minutes 25 seconds.

Fire Medical’s response time goals are inspired by standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, which sets a goal of four minutes or less for first responders at both medical emergencies or structure fires and eight minutes or less for full response, said Paula Phillips, Fire Medical analyst. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical’s benchmark factors in street patterns and traffic.

Phillips said that the agency is looking forward to upgrades this year that will include a visual “countdown timer” marking the time elapsed after the beginning of a call and the option for crews to update dispatchers with the push of a button. For police, emergency communication and radio system upgrades set for August will allow officers to see call information before the call is even dispatched, allowing officers an occasional head start on a high-priority call.