Lexington EMS changes lights and sirens policy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – When people call 911 for an ambulance it can be a life or death situation, but not always. Now, under a new policy, when it’s not an emergency and you’re in a city ambulance in Lexington, it may take you longer to get to the hospital.

“Anytime you have lights and sirens coming down the road, it puts everyone at a little bit more of an increased risk,” says Dr. Ryan Stanton, Lexington Fire’s Medical Director, who also serves as ABC 36’s Doc on Call. “Everyone [is] trying to get out of the way, it disrupts traffic patterns and the flow.”

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With more and more people misusing the EMS system across the county, like calling 911 for a cold or a sprained ankle, the fire department is trying to find ways to keep the public, the patients and the paramedics safe.

“With ambulances not traveling with lights and sirens, it allows them to not be as much of a disruption to the rest of the community,” Stanton says.

According to the fire department, ambulances transporting urgent cases, like a heart attack or trauma, will still transport to the hospital with lights and sirens. Non-urgent cases will get transported with no lights and sirens and will also drive with normal traffic.

Years ago the fire department used to transport non-urgent cases without lights and sirens. The fire department says because of lack of resources and staffing issues, they stopped that policy and started transporting everyone with lights and sirens to get the ambulance back on the street as quickly as possible.

Although the number of ambulances available during the day hasn’t increased, the fire department has a new plan it calls the “surge.” If there are more calls than ambulances available, firefighters usually assigned to a fire truck will jump into one of the many “surge” ambulances that are parked strategically around the city, increasing the amount of available ambulances on the street.