The city of Decatur says it's time to hold first responders who don't arrive to an emergency in a timely manner responsible.
They say it's been a problem for years. The First Response Ambulance Service must arrive to city calls within minutes. If they don't, they'll pay a hefty fine.
Decatur Fire and Rescue Chief Anthony Grande and his team work directly with the city ambulance services.
"The only request is that the citizens of the city of Decatur are well taken care of in 480 seconds," Grande said.
He supports the approved ordinance that holds the ambulance service financially responsible to arrive at a scene on time. Even though the ordinance was approved, changes can me made.
"There's probably a couple of amendments they would like to tweak and that's fine," Grande said.
As it stands, ambulances must be at a scene in Decatur in 8 minutes. For all other calls in the police jurisdiction, it's 12 minutes. If the services do not hit that number 90 percent of the time after a quarterly review, they are fined $10,000. That fine doubles if they fail two quarters in a row.
Harold Mooty is the attorney for First Response Ambulance Service and says a change in the rule hasn't been seen before.
"The city of Decatur just passed an overhaul of its ambulance ordinance, the rules governing ambulances. The current ordinances were passed in 1998. There were no amendments since then," Mooty said.
We're told the ambulance service will receive penalty points as well. If they hit a certain amount, their certificate to operate could be revoked.
Mooty was disappointed the ordinance was passed.
"There are concerns over whether or not my client can perform what the council is now requiring," Mooty said.
He is worried the services will not be able to meet the requirement. We're told a number of factors, including vehicle condition and locations, are a concern.
Chief Grande says for his team, this changes nothing and ultimately helps the safety of the city.
"That's what we do. That's what we've been doing for hundreds of years, and it's what we will continue to do as long as this fire department is in existence," Grande said.
It's unclear when amendments will be made to the ordinance. Mooty says the national standard to respond is 540 seconds. The city believes they have the tools to be quicker than that.
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