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Report Says EMS Response Slow In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Fire Department ambulances aren't getting critical help to the city's injured and ill fast enough, according to a city controller's report on the emergency-medical-response system.

While the department manages to get fire engines to emergencies quickly enough to administer basic medical aid, response times for ambulances have steadily deteriorated in recent years, the report found.

Sources familiar with the review - being released today - said that city ambulances are arriving within nine minutes only about 60 percent of the time, well below the industry standard of arrivals within nine minutes 90 percent of the time.

Nearly a third of ambulance runs take 10 minutes or more to arrive.

The EMS system came under criticism last year when it took more than 15 minutes for an ambulance to respond to the heart attack that killed former school board president Rotan Lee.

Family members issued a statement praising the Fire Department's response, but union activists and some citizens said the EMS system was under severe strain.

It was after that outcry that City Controller Alan Butkovitz ordered the performance review of the EMS system.

Sources said the review found the EMS system has too few ambulances, a demoralized staff with high turnover, inadequate dispatching technology, and faces increasing demand for emergency medical services.

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