FORT WORTH - Call an ambulance in North Fort Worth during rush hour, and paramedics face the same challenge as families who call the northern portion of the city home: traffic.
“It's a lot of area,” said Fort Worth Fire Chief Rudy Jacson. “It's growing and the roads aren't there yet.”
Matt Zavadsky is Medstar's Assistant Director of Operations.
“It takes us about 12 minutes to get an ambulance to calls in that area, where the rest of the city averages six to seven minutes,” Zavadsky said.
Fort Worth City Councilman Sal Espino, who represents much of North Fort Worth, has pushed for a change.
“When we get a 911 call and we can't get an ambulance north of Loop 820 because of the traffic on I-35, and the inadequacy of public roads, in my opinion that is a failure of public policy,” Espino said.
Only about one percent of Medstar's calls every year come from North Fort Worth. As a result, Zavadsky said they don't "normally dedicate an ambulance to that area."
Ambulances stay closer to areas with more calls.
Tuesday, council members voiced support for a pilot program that would fund an ambulance to sit near Texas Motor Speedway during peak call times. It would cost about $235,000 a year.
In the meantime, however, the Fort Worth Fire Department stationed a paramedic at a nearby station in the same area. Firefighters usually get to North Fort Worth calls a few minutes early, averaging response times of six to six-and-a-half minutes in that area. They stabilize patients until Medstar arrives.
No one has died as a result of the lower response times. City and medical leaders want to ensure that doesn't change.