Saturday, July 13, 2024

‘Every second counts’: New technology in ambulances expected to improve response times in Manatee County

Must read

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Manatee County is a fast-growing community. With that growth comes increased traffic on the roads and in the county’s dispatch center. Between FY 2020 and FY 2023, county officials say the 911 call volume increase by more than 70 percent.

The county just launched a pilot program in one of the areas that sees the highest volume of calls. Twenty-four traffic signals and 10 EMS vehicles are now equipped with new technology that will help first responders in ambulances get to calls and the hospital faster.

Director of Public Safety for Manatee County Jodie Fiske explained how it works.

“The technology will activate the lights to get the traffic flowing in the direction that we need the ambulances to go. They are looking at an average of about 11 seconds that is saved in our response time per intersection. That time adds up, which means we get to the person who called 911 much faster and we get them to the hospital much faster,” Fiske said.

The pilot program is focused around the main corridors leading to Manatee Memorial Hospital. If all goes as planned, Fiske said we could see the program expand countywide.

“In that urban corridor is where we see a huge majority of our calls, there is nowhere on the road for vehicles to move. Our sirens can be as loud and as bright as I want, but if the cars cant move out of the way, then the ambulance is stuck in traffic,” Fiske said. “Residents want to be cooperative, they want to help our ambulances get where they need to go, but if you are stuck, you are stuck. So as long as traffic is moving, that is what we want to see,” she continued.

We spoke with a board-certified ER physician at Manatee Memorial Hospital about the pilot program.

“Anything they can do to shorten that time to help get them to the hospital is going to be helpful. You want those seconds. The faster they can get here, the better chance we have to do something about it. Every second counts, especially with a heart attack or strokes; a couple of minutes can make a big difference in the outcome that they have,” Dr. H.B. White said.

After the first six months of the pilot program, county officials will look at the data gathered and decide whether or not they want to expand the program.

Latest article