Audit on Emergency Response Times Exposes SJFD's "Archaic" Mapping System | NBC Bay Area

Audit on Emergency Response Times Exposes SJFD's "Archaic" Mapping System

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    A draft report of an audit on the San Jose Fire Department sheds light on why crews are failing to meet overall response time goals to medical emergencies. Robert Handa reports. (Published Monday, Oct. 20, 2014)

    A draft report of an audit on the San Jose Fire Department sheds light on why crews are failing to meet overall response time goals to medical emergencies.

    NBC Bay Area has obtained a copy of the confidential draft audit, launched by Santa Clara County after the fire department did not meet response time standards for more than a year-and-a-half.

    County to Audit San Jose Fire's Response Times

    [BAY] County to Audit San Jose Fire's Response Times
    Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors got the go-ahead from county attorneys to audit San Jose Fire Department’s management and response times and voted unanimously to do so; it comes after NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit exposed SJFD reporting inaccurate data and that actual response times were worse than reported. Jenna Susko reports in a video that aired on March 11, 2014.
    (Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    The San Jose Fire Department is in a five-year contract with the county to provide first responder services to 911 emergency medical calls. The department agreed to at least 90 percent of calls would be responded to in under eight minutes.

    The county decided to stop paying the department earlier this year after calculating emergency crews failed to meet response times from September 2012 to February 2014.

    A county audit was launched after NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit revealed response time failures were even worse than numbers released publicly.

    The audit shows many firefighters complain about "basic tools." In the midst of Silicon Valley, firefighters said mobile data computers on fire trucks that suggest routes to calls are "slow" and "antiquated." In addition, many stations still use old paper maps and rely on hand-drawn index cards.

    Joel Phelan, president for the San Jose firefighters union, said it is frustrating for crews to look at a piece of paper that's not up to date.

    The audit also indicates San Jose's police staffing shortage often slows down responses, especially when a crime scene needs to be cleared before medical personnel can proceed.

    Phelan said he is glad the audit is being done because "it will shed some light on our deficiencies."

    "We've known our situation is archaic," he said. "Yet we've been unable to take steps to update our mapping system."

    Officials said a final audit may be presented to the county and city after the upcoming election.

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