Statement: “In San Ysidro, ambulance help is arriving a full minute faster than before. In Skyline, we’re opening a temporary fire station to immediately improve emergency service. In Encanto, we boosted Fire-Rescue response by three minutes,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in his State of the City address on Jan. 14.
Analysis: During his first year in office, Mayor Kevin Faulconer has tried to emphasize his support for the city’s lower-income communities.
Early on in his State of the City address last week, Faulconer called out three neighborhoods that have had historically poor emergency response, but benefited from new programs.
San Ysidro, he said, has quicker ambulance response times. Skyline is getting a new temporary fire station. And Encanto residents are seeing first-responders come much faster.
Last May, the city and private ambulance provider Rural/Metro added an ambulance in San Ysidro to serve the border with Mexico. Initial results showed ambulances were arriving to the border a minute faster than they had previously. It got even better over the last six months of the year. Ambulances arrived more than two minutes faster on average compared with the same period before the ambulance was put in service, according to Rural/Metro statistics.
In Encanto, a neighborhood in southeastern San Diego, Faulconer added a two-person emergency crew last year to improve response times. The crew was a novel idea because it operated out of a modified pick-up truck instead of a fire engine and only required two firefighters instead of the typical four. This saved the city money compared with building a new fire station. Since it began operating in July, Fire-Rescue crews are arriving to 90 percent of emergencies in Encanto an average of three minutes faster than before.
And in April, a new temporary fire station is planned to open in Skyline, another southeastern neighborhood. A four-person crew there should boost service to that community as well. But while Faulconer is correct to say this is happening, the new station is coming slower than expected. It was supposed to open this month, not in April. Fire-Rescue officials said contracting problems caused the delays.
Faulconer’s statement about emergency response enhancements in three of San Diego’s needier neighborhoods is true. Still, the city is far from closing the book on its emergency response problems. Four years ago, a consultant identified the community surrounding Home Avenue in City Heights as the most likely to have a delayed emergency response in the city. Nothing has been done to help Home Avenue residents yet.
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