Emergency response times cut in half in Columbia County

Friday, May 10, 2019

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WRDW) -- Emergency response times for Columbia County could be cut in half with the addition of the county's 7th ambulance.

"That's a big difference when it's cardiac arrest or something like that," EMTI Stephen Parish said.

He knows in his job, time is precious.

"Four to six minutes you start having brain damage from a lack of oxygen," Parish said.

First responders can get to the scene in about two minutes, but for a fully-equipped ambulance, one that can provide life-saving drugs and a trip to the hospital, that time grows the further out you get.

"They had a complaint about response times, about waiting times," District 4 Commissioner, Dewey Galeas said.

90% of the time, first priority one cases like CPR, seizures and choking, it takes 8 minutes and 59 seconds to get to urban areas. But it takes 14 minutes and 59 seconds to reach the rural spots.

For priority two cases, which is all other emergencies, it takes 10 minutes and 59 seconds to get to urban areas and 16 minutes and 59 seconds to reach the rural areas.

In non-emergencies, the wait time could take as long as 40 minutes.

"This is a huge district, the Appling, Harlem area," Commissioner Galeas said. "The response times can have a real impact on what happens to a patient downstream."

Now, that wait time is cut in half thanks to ambulance number seven.

"It was decided because of the increase in population in this area, the call volume and the increase in homes going up in this area," Vince Brogdon, the CEO of Gold Cross said.

Vince Brogdon says the 7th ambulance impacts the whole county, allowing other units in places like Martinez, Evans and Grovetown to stay closer.

Could it the difference in saving someone's life?

"Oh absolutely," Brogdon said. "Any time you add a resource such as an ambulance or a fire truck in a different area, I believe it helps everyone."