BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - For the second time in a month, questions are being raised about the slow response time of a Rural/Metro ambulance to the scene of a life and death situation.
On Monday, a stabbing victim laid on the ground outside a gas station in the city's Lovejoy neighborhood as police warned dispatchers if an ambulance didn't arrive soon, the victim would die.
Brian Lawson, a spokesman for Rural/Metro, tells News 4 the first 911 call came in at 4:36 p.m., but because of a spike in volume, an ambulance didn't arrive until 4:49 p.m., 13 minutes later.
The 21-year-old man was taken to ECMC and is in stable condition. He's much luckier than shooting victim 25-year-old Kristopher Pride, who after being shot in the 100 block of Keystone near Walden in Buffalo waited almost 15 minutes for a Rural/Metro ambulance to arrive. After being taken to the hospital, Pride died, and it is unclear if the slow response time played a role.
Buffalo Police say Monday's stabbing was a result of a road rage incident on William Street. When an ambulance didn't immediately arrive, firefighters can be heard telling the dispatcher they need an ambulance ASAP. The dispatcher responds, "There is nothing we can do. Rural/Metro does not have an ambulance."
Lawson says there was a big spike in calls at that time. An ambulance was freed up from ECMC and headed to William Street, arriving 13 minutes after it was called.
"I think we always like to get there faster. But in this particular case, we were able to provide good patient care and get them to the hospital," Lawson said.
The Rural/Metro spokesman says, ideally, an ambulance will respond in eight to 10 minutes for the most serious calls. The call for this stabbing was not for advanced life support (ALS), but rather basic life support. Had it been elevated to ALS, Lawson says he doesn't know whether an ambulance could have been there sooner.
Common Council President Richard Fontana was concerned last month when Pride died after being shot and it took nearly 15 minutes for Rural/Metro to respond and take him to the hospital. Fontana met with the ambulance company to learn more about its staffing.
"I can't fault them if they're doing their job of course. But 'how can they do their job better?' is always a question we have to ask as a city. You know, the city, if we had a lot more people, they'd probably need a lot more ambulances. So maybe with more people moving back into the city, it may be time to look at the minimum number of ambulances in Buffalo," Fontana said.
Fontana also defended Rural/Metro's response to last month's shooting, agreeing that the company had an unusually high call volume at the time and that the ambulance company is operating above the minimum number of ambulances the city requires.
Buffalo Police have arrested 39-year-old Benjamin Addison of Cheektowaga for Monday's road rage stabbing. There has been no arrest made in Pride's murder.
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