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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Missouri City Council is asking the Kansas City Fire Department some tough questions after an audit showed that ambulance response times haven’t kept up to national standards after the department took over ambulance operations from MAST Ambulance a year and a half ago.

According to the current national standards, ambulances should respond to calls in nine minutes or less 90 percent of the time. But according to the results of the City Auditor, ambulance service in Kansas City – either under the control of the Fire Department or MAST – only met the standard from 82 to 89 percent of the time.

The auditor’s report showed that response times have been, on average, about a minute slower since the Fire Department took over for MAST. However, interim KCFD Chief Paul Berardi says that new protocols for dispatchers requiring them to ask more questions have increased the call processing time by nearly a minute, and that the dispatch time should not be taken into account when comparing response times.

“The ambulance response times are good,” said Chief Berardi. “I think that, like I mentioned in my presentation, we are never satisfied with where we are. We consider this a benchmark and we can look at trends and go up or down, and I would also say that I’m not satisfied with response times in all parts of the city.”

The City Auditor’s report notes that, for callers waiting for emergency help, the amount of time taken for processing and responding to a call is all the same.

During Thursday’s hearing, City Councilmembers noted that for a time, the city stopped keeping track of response times – and they wanted to know why. Berardi told the council that he would have that answer when he came back next week.