Local News

Rural Residents in Durham County May Have to Wait Longer for Paramedics Overnight

Posted October 22, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— When you call 911, you expect help to arrive quickly. But how quickly it arrives in Durham County may depend on where you live, and when you call.

Mary Tilley's daughter has lupus. Tilley says she has had to make emergency calls several times as a result.

"I've had real good experience with them," she says of emergency crews. "They were down here in no time at all."

Tilley says getting her daughter to the hospital during a medical crisis has not been a problem, even though the family lives 20 miles north of Durham.

"The ones who have come out here have been really good. But I've noticed they had to wait for the regular ambulance to get out here so they could transport her one night. That was the only thing," she says.

Why the wait for an ambulance? A full-time paramedic is not available in Bahama and four other outlying areas from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Durham County EMS spokesperson Mickey Tezai says budget constraints are the problem. But he also says that even though a paramedic is not immediately available in all areas, patient care is not compromised.

"A paramedic is within 7-12 minutes, or maybe a little longer sometimes," Tezai says. "But there's always a responder there, in that district, that can get to the incident, and does get to that incident, in 4 minutes, everywhere in the county."

There is a plan to install around-the-clock EMS personnel in all rural areas and to hire more paramedics to handle nighttime hours. The plan could cost $400,000 and will be submitted to the county commission by mid-November.