Excerpts from Chicago.cbslocal.com:

Last summer, the Chicago Fire Department hailed the addition of five new ambulances as a step to cutting chronically slow response times to emergency calls. According to an analysis of eight months of Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) data the fleet was up to 80 ambulances.

A comparison of ambulance response times for the four months before the new ambulances were added to the same four months after the addition revealed that the average response times improved just four seconds– from seven minutes, 22 seconds to seven minutes, 18 seconds. The state standard is six minutes.

Response times were supposed to be helped when the University of Chicago opened its trauma center last spring because ambulances wouldn’t have to travel as far for critical runs, but the data shows only an incremental improvement.

Further analysis showed most ambulances go on 10 runs in a 24-hour period, but the busiest ambulances can have up to 18 runs a day.

At the current fleet level of 80 ambulances, Chicago ranks last in number of ambulances per one thousand people when compared to other big cities. If Chicago added 20 more ambulances the rate jumps to 3.7 per 1,000 people — meeting national norms. A recent industry report said the Chicago Fire Department needs to bring its fleet up to 100 ambulances.

In 2015, the Chicago Inspector General issued a report criticizing the fire department for not properly tracking response times.

The fire department said the data analyzed from the OEMC is unreliable, as well as data used by the inspector general. The department also questions data used by the paramedics union calling for more ambulances. The fire department claims they will be issuing their own report on response times in the next couple of months and said it is now manually reviewing data to identify discrepancies, technical issues, or operating errors. Until that is done, it cannot verify the accuracy of response time data.

Here is the entire statement provided by the Chicago Fire Department:

“Ensuring Chicago has the highest quality emergency medical services and rapid ambulance response times is our top priority. Following last summer’s expansion of the department’s ambulance fleet, CFD announced it would conduct a comprehensive analysis on the impact of the five new ambulances to ensure it meets the needs of Chicago.

To ensure the accuracy of this intensive study, CFD is reviewing data manually to determine any discrepancies, technical issues, or operating errors; the department estimates it will need no less than 45 days to complete this review. While the department’s analysis is underway, we cannot verify the accuracy of raw data and information that has not undergone a comprehensive review by the Chicago Fire Department.”

thanks Martin