ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- When a heart stops beating, the time starts ticking for county paramedics to get to the patient's side.
But often, the paramedic team stationed nearest to an emergency is tending to another person in distress - forcing dispatchers to call on the next closest firehouse to send an ambulance to the scene.
That scenario has caused some county paramedics to fall short of the national standard on their times to respond to medical emergencies in recent years, with some going as much as 5 minutes over the limit, said Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia, a county Fire Department spokesman.
But fire officials are crediting a pilot program to strategically use their paramedics with turning the problem around.