In a couple New Jersey counties, an ambulance typically takes more than 20 minutes to arrive at the scene of an emergency.

In fact, no county in the Garden State boasts an average response time less than 10 minutes for medical transport, according to the state's first-ever public report on the data.

But there's no reason to panic, according to Joe Walsh, president of the EMS Council of New Jersey.

The state data, reflecting response times on over 86,000 calls in October 2017, do not take into account the many instances in which EMTs, law enforcement or advanced medical care providers arrive on the scene long before an ambulance, Walsh said.

"The ambulance is a glorified means of transportation; it is not the care," Walsh said. "If an EMT gets to that scene when he hears it on his radio ... and provides care, that's when care starts."

According to Walsh, it rarely takes longer than 5 minutes in New Jersey for an EMT or EMS-trained cop to arrive at the site of an emergency.

"All of our EMS carry with them some sort of first aid kit. Police departments have oxygen and first aid kits," he said.

EMS agency response tines by county, in minutes
EMS agency response tines by county, in minutes (NJ Department of Health Office of Emergency Services)

A spokesperson for the state Department of Health said their reporting is based on the national standard that an ambulance is equipped with all necessary life-saving equipment — including items a volunteer likely would not have in their car, such as Narcan or a defibrillator.

The department said it can only report on the data that is available; if the EMS Council would like to note in a patient's chart when a first responder arrives on the scene of an emergency, the department could develop additional performance measures.

According to to DOH data, Essex County had the most calls for emergency medical services in Ocotber (10,575). At 622, Salem County had the fewest.

EMS agency response time, by ambulance, clocked in at 24 minutes in Sussex County and just over 23 minutes in Warren County. Fourteen counties fell in the 12-to-16-minute range.

Camden County's response time, the lowest in the state, was 10 minutes and 16 seconds.

Response time data from November and December will be added to the DOH site in February.


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