Cooling centers open to help battle extreme heat

Ambulance Response Times Under Fire After Man Dies of Heart Attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two years ago a Kansas City man died of a heart attack. His widow claims he would have survived had paramedics not taken 21 minutes to arrive. She said it’s an issue that has city council demanding answers that have been slow to come.

Danna Dufty obtained call records from the Kansas City Fire Department that details when her daughter’s 911 call was received and when paramedics arrived on scene — a total of 21 minutes.

“I think he probably would’ve lived if they had been here on time,” Dufty said. “My brother is a paramedic; he saw the autopsy. He said those first three-to-five minutes are most crucial in a heart attack. He said they could’ve revived him, but he said the damage was already done by the time they got here.”

The closest firehouse on the day Timothy Dufty died is located at North Oak and 81st Street, but there is no ambulance that operates out of it — not then, not now. Another firehouse just a few minutes away has an ambulance, but it’s located in Gladstone and Kansas City won’t call Gladstone if it has its own ambulance — even if it’s a lot further away.

“When they kicked MAST out, they left the Northland without any coverage up here ambulance-wise,” Dufty said.

The MAST takeover and ambulance response times have the fire department on the defensive. Twice in the last week fire authorities have gone before the city council but neither time could provide district-by-district response times.

Interim Fire Chief Paul Berardi declined an interview, but in a phone call said the fire department’s own call log is wrong. He said the ambulance crew dispatched to the Dufty residence took 11 minutes to arrive, not 21.

Still there’s the question of why closer crews can’t be dispatched. Councilman John Sharp head the public safety committee and said Chief Berardi is supposed to provide his committee district-by-district response times at their meeting next Wednesday.

Dufty said she knows nothing will bring back her husband, but hopes addressing the slow response times will help someone else in the future.

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