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New rules for Decatur ambulance services to fix poor response times

“If somebody has to come from Cullman or HEMSI to run a 911 call, they’re waiting way too long.”
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 9:31 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -The local ambulance regulatory board approved new rules for Decatur ambulance services, and changes are on the way. The goal is to have EMS units on scene quicker and to reduce rolled calls.

Rolled calls are when the city does not have ambulances available to respond to 911 calls, and the response has to be rolled to another service outside the city of Decatur. Decatur Fire & Rescue Chief Tracy Thornton says there were over 300 rolled calls in a span of three months this past summer.

The City of Decatur currently uses First Response and Decatur Morgan Hospital ambulances, and both will have to abide by new rules.

“310 times a call came in, we were short where we didn’t have coverage that we needed to do it. We don’t want rolled calls because if somebody has to come from Cullman or HEMSI to run a 911 call, they’re waiting way too long,” said Thornton.

Thornton says rolled calls have been a problem for years in Decatur, along with an overall issue in ambulance response times.

“When Decatur-Morgan joined and we had two EMS providers, we had to change the rules just a little bit to make it fair for both providers the best we could,” said Thornton.

The new rules for First Response and Decatur-Morgan Hospital Ambulance services will require two units on duty for 24 hours, and one on duty for 12 hours for each company. They have to have one unit available for dispatch to non-emergency calls, and a unit ready before other trucks go off duty.

“That just makes sure that we have coverage throughout the city 24 hours a day,” said Thornton.

Thornton says for Decatur citizens, this is a huge benefit and means quick response times for 911 calls.

“I think what we did was, what we did was right. There is nothing wrong other than we were trying to make the best service for people possible,” said Thornton.

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