Local News

Ambulance Response Time A Concern In Cumberland County

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RALEIGH — You can count on workers at Cumberland County Emergency Management Services to respond to your urgent medical needs. But depending upon when you call, you may have to wait awhile for them to get to you.

Phyllis Weybrecht waited for 18 minutes after her 11-year oldGolden Retriever attacked her without warning, injuring her arm.

Weybrecht was on the cell phone with her husband, Robert, when ithappened. After hearing his wife scream for help, he hung up and dialed 911.

"Fifteen to 20 minutes later, someone finally came, but my husband was actually the first one here," Phyllis says.

"When I arrived, I was in a state of panic. I came in the house and found my wife laying in a pool of blood," says Robert Weybrecht.

It took 18 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the Weybrecht'shome because Cumberland County EMS had to wait until one was available.

EMS operates six ambulances every day, which is the same number they had in 1990. However, the number of emergency calls have gone up 60 percent.

"You're trusting that someone's there to help you. They say they're on the way but where are they?" Phyllis says.

Walter Ainsworth, director of Emergency Management Services, admits it is challenging to serve the community with limited resources, but he says people will still get the help they need.

"We've established the quick response system in some areas to get a paramedic on the scene quicker although we don't have an ambulance there. We do [get] a paramedic there to render care until an ambulance gets there," he says.

EMS averages a response time of nine minutes per call. The Cape Fear Valley Medical System is bringing in a consultant to look at the staffing and resources of EMS to make sure they are responding to people's needs in the quickest way possible.