California lawmaker proposes bills to help decrease LAFD ambulance response times

One local lawmaker believes he may have the solution to the problem of increased ambulance response times plaguing the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Over the last three months, FOX 11 has been in contact with several LAFD paramedics, who say ambulance response times are going up, in some cases costing people their lives.

"You guys don't ever hear about it. We don't go public with it, but it's on a constant basis," one paramedic told FOX 11. "Our average response time should be anywhere for three to four minutes; 10 minutes, you're lucky. Fifteen is common, and 20 is going to be the norm."

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Two of the issues responsible for the long response times are an increase in unnecessary 911 calls and ambulances being forced to wait at hospitals.

California Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D - Pomona) said he's introduced two bills he thinks will alleviate both of those issues. 

"I've seen a couple of those ambulances at one of those hospitals, that takes an ambulance out of the service," Rodriguez said.

At times, several ambulances can be found waiting at local hospitals. Ambulances are not allowed to leave until the patient they've transported has been admitted to the emergency room. Paramedics can lose hours waiting for that patient to be taken in.

Rodriguez has introduced Assembly Bill 40, which would require the California Emergency Medical Services Authority to take action to address the wait times. Rodriguez said the goal is to get the patient off the ambulance gurney in 20 minutes. If a hospital goes beyond that 20 minutes, they would face a fine.

"We need to stake strongboat actions to make sure that folks are paying attention to this urgent need and get the patients treated appropriately, and get the first responders back on the streets," Rodriguez said.

When it comes to the increase in superfluous 911 calls, Rodriguez has introduced AB 296, which proposes an educational campaign, teaching people when and when not to call 911. 

"Not everyone should be calling 911," said Rodriguez. "It's the life and death emergencies, that's when they should be calling. When people call 911 they expect our first responders to be there within the first few minutes to help treat someone that's possibly dying."

Rodriguez's two bills have just been introduced, but if passed would go into effect statewide.