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KCK firefighters union concerned over long response time

UG says 2021 times are within national standard
J.J. Simma, president, International Association of Firefighters Local 64
Posted at 9:33 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 23:36:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The union representing Kansas City, Kansas, firefighters is worried about longer response times following a deadly crash over the weekend.

On Saturday, a deputy with the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a shooting call in a marked patrol vehicle with lights and sirens on. At the intersection of 90th and Parallel, the deputy was involved in a crash with another vehicle.

According to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, the first ambulance arrived quickly, just over six minutes, transporting the driver who died at the hospital the next day.

But the other ambulance for the injured deputy had to travel from 8th and Barnett in downtown KCK to the crash site near the Legends.

Although the Unified Government claims they don’t have a record of it, the KCK firefighters union, International Association of Firefighters Local 64, says it took 18 minutes for a second ambulance to arrive at Saturday’s crash.

"We've seen a number of issues, specifically with regards to EMS response times in the western portion of our city greater than 10 minutes," said J.J. Simma, IAFF Local 64 president.

The union took its concerns to social media – posting on Facebook that Saturday "was not an isolated incident and has continuously been a topic of our discussions with city leaders and fire administration."

Communication is better since last November when the union protested outside City Hall over the closure of Station 15 in the Fairfax district saying it led to longer response times.

But coverage issues remain a year later.

"When we have depleted a portion of the city, because if we've got resources out, we're not moving an ambulance from the south or the north to a better temporary location more centrally located or in the western half to just provide coverage," Simma said.

A Unified Government spokesperson says the response times so far in 2021 are within the national standard – 91.5% of the time for critical calls and just over 99% of the time for non-critical calls – and that "KCKFD tracks this information closely in the interest of our community’s public safety."

"We may be meeting the national standard, but we should be trying to set the bar as high as possible," Simma said.

The union would like to see dispatchers have the ability to evaluate resources and position them as they fit.

"We believe they've been given direction to leave units located where they typically are and not to move them," Simma said.

He added KCK Mayor-Elect Tyrone Garner is aware of these response time concerns and he's looking forward to working with Garner on solutions.

KSHB 41 News reached out to Garner's team on how they plan to address the issue but did not receive a response as of Wednesday evening.