Maine EMS response times slow by 2 minutes

A study showed response times have gone up from eight minutes to 10 minutes since 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine — A recent investigation has discovered response times for ambulances in Maine have risen by almost two minutes in the span of two years.

The WGME investigation team looked at years of EMS response-time data to determine exactly how much response times have slowed.

In 2013, the statewide average response time was eight minutes and 25 seconds. In 2015, the average response time had risen to 10 minutes and 22 seconds; response times across Maine vary anywhere from two to 26 minutes depending on where the call originated.

Maine EMS Director Shaun St. Germain said EMS response times are impacted by distance, terrain and weather.

"Certainly, we're a very rural state. Folks are moving further and further from cities; it may take longer to get to them," said St. Germain. "When we're practicing appropriate dispatch there may be cases where something is determined to be less urgent and so they may slow down the response."

A federal report estimated over 10,000 lives could be saved a year by improving response times by one minute. 

St. Germain said response time alone isn't always an indicator of the quality of EMS providers.

"What we recommend is that services get there safely. Patient outcomes is the key; we want to make sure patients are getting appropriate care," St. Germain said.

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