Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2015 - NEWS RELEASE
San Diego - With the goal of making emergency response times more equal across the city, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer announced today that response times improved by an average of more than two minutes in the Southeastern neighborhood of Encanto with the implementation of the innovative Fast Response Squad pilot program.
The Fast Response Squad pilot program - a two-person firefighting crew stationed in the community - saw the average emergency response time in Encanto improve by 30 percent from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, compared to the previous fiscal year. The average response time fell from seven minutes and 14 seconds in the 12 months prior to implementation to five minutes and five seconds with the Fast Response Squad.
"It wasn't right that Encanto residents had to wait longer when they called 911, so we changed the system and we're saving lives as a result," Mayor Faulconer said. "This is about making sure your family gets quality service from the City no matter which neighborhood you live in."
The program places a Fast Response Squad in neighborhoods where response times are longer because of the distance from the nearest fire station. The squad is able to reach the emergency scene in those neighborhoods faster than an ambulance or four-person fire engines from a fire station.
The Fast Response Squad also helps free up resources for other emergencies by notifying the engine company or ambulance that the incident is fairly minor and can be handled by the two-person squad. During the pilot program in Encanto, the squad responded to 1,727 emergencies and was able to cancel an ambulance or engine in 316 incidents when it wasn't needed, or 18 percent of the time.
"I am very pleased with the improved response times in Encanto because of the Fast Response Squad," said City Councilmember Myrtle Cole, whose district includes Encanto. "It's an interim solution for difficult-to-serve areas until full engine fire stations can be put in place."
The Fast Response Squad program is improving public safety as the City works to build more fire stations. Mayor Faulconer is expanding the program with a new squad in University City that is expected to begin service on Jan. 1. Funding for the University City unit was included in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget that was unanimously approved by the City Council in June.
"While we join the Mayor and Council in their commitment to get a full-scale fire station in Encanto and other underserved areas, response time improvements seen in Encanto clearly demonstrate that the Fast Response Squad can be an immediate asset to the community," said San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Mainar.
The City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee will receive a report on the results from the first year of the Fast Response Squad program at its 2 p.m. Wednesday hearing.
CONTACT: Craig Gustafson at (619) 453-9880 or [email protected]