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Atlanta unveils new EMS ‘micro station’ to reduce community 911 wait times

EMS Station 37 is expected to reduce wait times in the southwest part of the city, freeing up other units

By Riley Bunch
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — Along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta on Thursday, elected officials, fire department staff and curious residents crowded around a new $4 million emergency services “micro station.”

The new facility is part of an effort by the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department to reduce 9-1-1 wait times that have been plaguing the city since the pandemic — especially in areas with less access to health care. Crews in EMS Station 37 will respond to medical emergencies, in hopes of freeing up other stations and vehicles to respond to other types of calls.

Atlanta Fire and Rescue Chief Rod Smith said that EMS Station 37 is a first-of-its-kind in the southeastern region of the country.

“This is a vital addition to our city’s emergency services network, especially here in southwest Atlanta,” he said. “We all know the need and the need is real. And the people of southwest Atlanta deserve the same opportunity to survive a medical incident as we do anywhere else in the city.”

During a recent presentation to the Atlanta City Council, public safety leaders said that while the city had made progress at reducing its wait times — the average hold time fell from 29 seconds to 24 seconds last year — the numbers still aren’t ideal.

Call volumes increased by 14% to around 1.3 million calls in 2023, according to APD. Of those, the biggest chunk was requests for EMS services.

On Thursday, city officials cited a hole in emergency services left when Wellstar Health System decided to abruptly shutter the Atlanta Medical Center in 2022, saying that the city was taking on the responsibility of closing those healthcare gaps. Wellstar also closed its East Point clinic last month.

“Everyone knows now what a health care disparity actually looks like,” Council member Marci Collier Overstreet said of the southwest side of Atlanta. “Because for some reason, here in the heart of Atlanta, someone saw it fit to take away an important hospital.”

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