First Off-Grounds Hub Improves Okla. EMS Response

First Off-Grounds Hub Improves Okla. EMS Response

News Nov 12, 2012

Nov. 12--BIXBY -- A first-of-its-kind ambulance hub has given EMSA a permanent presence in southern Tulsa County.

The new Bixby substation houses ambulances, offices and supplies for crews that serve areas south of about 71st Street, including Jenks and Bixby, Emergency Medical Services Agency spokeswoman Kelli Bruer said.

It's the first off-grounds hub for the agency's Eastern Division crews, whose resupplying trips were previously limited to division headquarters near Pine Street and Peoria Avenue in Tulsa, Bruer said.

EMSA's Oklahoma City-based Western Division is still served by a single hub, she said.

"This is new for us, as we've never had quarters like that before," she said. "There are going to be more ambulances in that south (Tulsa County) area because they're starting and ending there and restocking there."

EMSA opened the 4,000-square-foot facility Oct. 23 at an industrial complex just north of 131st Street and Memorial Drive.

Southern Tulsa County crews now report there before heading to parking lots and gas stations near areas of heavy call volume, where they wait for emergency calls. They can return to the station for supplies when needed.

Although all EMSA crews rotate between such strategic locations, the Bixby crews can now be assigned to posts exclusively in southern Tulsa County, taking them out of the countywide rotation.

"It used to be that those Bixby trucks would blend in with the system and just get moved all around," Bruer said. "Now we've taken a microcosm of that and put it in Bixby."

The crews will likely remain south of 71st Street, but may respond further north if they are the closest available, she said.

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Bixby's population has grown by almost 60 percent since 2000, with the latest U.S. Census estimate at 21,137.

That growth -- and complaints about EMSA response times -- prompted Bixby officials to ask the agency earlier this year to provide additional ambulances.

An ambulance was permanently stationed at 151st Street and Memorial Drive in May, taking some of the load from another post at 101st Street and Memorial Drive, near Bixby's northern border.

That was the first step in the plan to add the full-fledged hub, which can house five ambulances at a time, Bruer said.

Crews have had trouble navigating the city's busy Memorial Drive, and the agency feared that service to schools south of the Arkansas River would eventually be hampered, she said.

All Bixby schools except North Elementary School are south of the river.

"While our response times weren't lacking in that area, just our volume was increasing in the area," Bruer said, adding that "there's a whole lot of people -- kids and adults" at Bixby's schools.

EMSA is considering opening a similar Western Division hub in Edmond because of increasing call volume there, she said.

The agency serves more than 1 million people in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding cities.

Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486

zack.stoycoff@tulsaworld.com

Copyright 2012 - Tulsa World, Okla.

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