Councilor Terry Nall asked the Dunwoody city council Monday to declare an EMS emergency after three recent incidents involving American Medical Response, DeKalb County’s ambulance contractor.
Nall has been following the delivery of emergency medical services for more than two years, said Friday in an email to council that it was time to take action.
Area television news broadcasts last week showed video from the body cameras of Dunwoody police officers aiding in a call to transport a teenager to a hospital for a mental evaluation.
The tape showed a technician with AMR punching the patient who was restrained. Officers broke it up and arrested Deannah Williams. She told officers the patient spit on her. She has since been fired but AMR has had no further comment.
Nall was already in possession of a report from police that a recent call to aid a pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Tilly Mill Road had taken AMR 58 minutes to complete. He has documented many other such incidents.
He wants DeKalb County to terminate its contract with AMR and, failing that, suggests working with Sandy Springs to create a joint EMS contract. Dunwoody shares 65 percent of its border with Sandy Springs.
“We cannot wait for a new DeKalb contract,” Hall said. “DeKalb Fire Chief Fullum has already said providing EMS service north of I-285 is a challenge. Dunwoody is in the forgotten area of DeKalb County EMS service. The two most recent events demonstrate this situation has reached EMS emergency status.”
Nall said city leaders responsible for public safety need bold action and a strong stand now.
“ A formal and public declaration of this EMS crisis is needed,” he said. “DeKalb County officials, both staff and elected, have been silent on immediate fixes to the EMS crisis.”
Nall and the council have been looking at the issue for more than two years and the topic figured into its council retreat reviewing 2017.
The National Fire Protection Association sets a national standard response time of nine minutes for 90 percent of calls.
The DeKalb fire department had set an average call time of 8 minutes 59 seconds or less for 90 percent of calls, meeting the national minimum standard.
AMR was out of compliance with the national standard and its contract, arriving in 15 minutes for 90 percent of its calls.
The council also has seen several years of records offering detailed average responses for fire and EMS in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, cities with similar traffic challenges. The other two cities show far faster responses.
Under state law, EMS services are grouped into regions. Nall said it was fortunate that Dunwoody and Sandy Springs are in the same regional grouping, making a “carve out” easier.
State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) began the legislative research on the subject last week.