BACKGROUND: The population's migration from urban to suburban areas has resulted in a more dispersed population and has increased traffic flow, possibly resulting in longer emergency response times. Although studies have examined the effect of response times on time to definitive care and survival, no study has addressed the possible causes of slowed response time from the point of view of emergency medical services (EMS) first responders. OBJECTIVES: To assess the variables most commonly associated with increased emergency response time as described by the opinions and views of EMS first responders. METHODS: A total of 500 surveys were sent to randomly selected individuals registered as first responders with the Alabama Department of Public Health, and 112 surveys were returned completed. The survey included questions regarding roadway design, response to emergency calls, in-vehicle technology aimed at decreasing travel time, and public education regarding emergency response. RESULTS: Respondents reported traveling on city streets most often during emergency calls, and encountering traffic more often on interstates and national highways. Traffic congestion, on average, resulted in nearly 10min extra response time. Most agreed that the most effective in-vehicle technology for reducing response time was a pre-emptive green light device; however, very few reported availability of this device in their emergency vehicles. Public education regarding how to react to approaching emergency vehicles was stated as having the greatest potential impact on reducing emergency response time. CONCLUSION: The results of the survey suggest that the best methods for reducing emergency response times are those that are easy to implement (e.g., public education).
Adult, Aged, Automobile Driving, Crowding, Emergency Medical Services, Female, Health Education, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Vehicles, Surveys and Questionnaires, Time Factors, United States, Young Adult