Emergency response times in Amarillo: Are they too slow?

AMARILLO, Texas----When you pick up the phone and dial 911, you expect emergency services to be there in a matter of a few minutes, but that may not always be the case.

Emergency responders go out on dozens of calls every single day.

But what if your call for help ends up taking 7, 8, even 9 minutes before somebody shows up?

"For a priority 1 call, we have to be there 90 percent of the time in 8 minutes and 59 seconds," says Lauren Christie with American Medical Response.

A priority 1 call means a life or death situation and when every second counts, 9 minutes may not sound quick to a lot of people."

"It is a long time," Christie said. "That's the national standard and the City of Amarillo decided to pick that time."

"I know if you're the one calling for help it sure seems like a very long time," Amarillo Emergency Communications Center Assistant Manager Terry Bavousett said.

7 percent of priority 1 calls end up taking more than 10 minutes for somebody to respond.

They were often located in the Northeast quadrant of Amarillo.

There are also some improvements the dispatch center wants to work on as well.

"We have not been satisfied with the time from when a caller calls in to the time we dispatch the proper agency," Bavousett said.

Dispatchers are supposed to send the proper authorities out to the scene within 60 seconds of picking up the phone.

89 percent of those calls didn't meet that requirement.

To play it fair, the Emergency Dispatch Center did receive recognition for following medical protocol and sending out the right emergency services.

Meanwhile, AMS says responding to priority 1 calls in 9 minutes is not the norm.

"We usually meet our response times in 5 minutes or less," Christie said.

The fire department is dispatched to all priority 1 calls and in those cases, we're told they are able to arrive on scene in just over 4 minutes.