The Dunwoody City Council is exploring setting up its own emergency medical services with neighboring cities after years of frustration with DeKalb County’s ambulance service.
The council voted unanimously May 21 to ask the state agency charged with issuing EMS service certificates to grant one to the city.
The vote follows years of dissatisfaction with response times from AMR, the county’s contracted ambulance company. The decision also follows the recent arrest of an EMT with AMR for allegedly assaulting a Dunwoody teen patient in an ambulance.
City Manager Eric Linton told the council he has been exploring EMS certification with other cities north of I-285, including Sandy Springs, to provide their own service rather than relying on county services.
Councilmember Terry Nall called for a “formal and public declaration of an EMS emergency” in Dunwoody. Nall said national response times should be 9 minutes for 90 percent of calls but in Dunwoody the response times in 2017 averaged nearly 15 minutes 90 percent of the time.
Last week, a pedestrian was hit on Tilly Mill Road and an AMR ambulance did not make it to the scene until 58 minutes later. Over the weekend, an ambulance was called to a local restaurant and responded 36 minutes later, he said.
“If I were in charge of DeKalb County, the first thing I would do is terminate the contract with AMR,” Nall said.
As Dunwoody elected officials, the council cannot fire AMR. But Nall said the city must act because DeKalb’s elected officials are not doing anything to try to remedy slow response times north of I-285.
“We are the forgotten area,” Nall said.
With the declaration, the city now intends to work with Sandy Springs and Doraville to petition the state to seek an EMS certificate for their area north of I-285.
“We’re in the midst of an EMS emergency and it’s time for us to step up as our county leaders have not,” Nall said.