‘Not acceptable’: Riley County to build new EMS station after determining response times too high

Riley County ambulance in storage at an EMS station. (Landon Reinhardt | Collegian Media Group)

A new Emergency Medical Services station is set to go up in northern Riley County to shorten high ambulance response times.

“County Commission have determined that our response times to northern Riley County are not acceptable,” EMS Director David Adams said.

According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest victims seen in the first six minutes have a near 20 percent survival rate. However, the survival rate drops to eight percent for victims seen 15 minutes after the incident.

With the northern-most EMS station in Riley County being at the Public Works Facility, people living in the northern bounds of the county were seeing 30-minute wait times for emergency services.

“Thirty minutes is a long … 20 to 30 minutes is a long time,” Kim Shorb, resident in northern Riley County, said. “I mean, and if you’re having an emergency, that’s important.”

After being bucked off a horse, Shorb fractured her scapula and six ribs, leaving her with a concussion. Shorb said it took EMS about 20 minutes to get to her.

“I was in and out of consciousness,” Shorb said, “but it did take a while.”

Retired Emergency Manager for Riley County Pat Collins said that the “Golden Hour” is being elongated with longer drives. The “Golden Hour” in emergency services refers to the window of opportunity — around an hour — that is of the utmost importance for emergency patients to see care.

“You drive 35 minutes to the other end of the county, and you spend 20 minutes or 25 minutes on scene, then drive another 35 minutes, you haven’t got a patient back to a care facility within that ‘Golden Hour,'” Collins said. “There’s a lot greater chance you’re not going to survive from that.”

The Riley County Commission agreed to purchase and build a new station but has not picked a location yet. Two locations in the discussion are Leonardville and Randolph.

“The average response time for us in northern Riley County is about 16 minutes, very far north, it’s up to 30 minutes, and that’s just too much — that’s too long for anybody,” Adams said.

The new station should cut the average response time in half from 16 to eight minutes and the longest waits from 30 to 15 minutes.

“When you have an emergency, time is of the essence,” Adams said.

The new facility will have living quarters for two, an office, kitchen, living room and room to store an ambulance.

“We’re excited,” Adams said. “Anytime you can enhance your responses to the community, that’s always a good thing.”

Riley County hopes to have the new station up and running by the end of the year.