Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Intuitively, just listening to my scanner, I can tell you there is a difference in response times since Kansas City's EMS was taken over by the Kansas City Fire Department--and it's not a difference of the good kind. Because I live in South KC, I can tell you that this area has suffered at times for lack of a post in the west south of 95th Street. I was assuming that there would be an ambulance at 99th and Holmes but it seems that ambulance is frequently pulled north, leaving all the southland for the ambulance at Hillcrest and Red Bridge, and dynamic ambulances don't seem to be circulating very quickly. I write this only because I have noticed it anecdotally--I don't have numbers. Apparently, there are some real difficulties north of the river. Today, Tony of TKC blogged on the MAST/KCFD take over and noted that in an upcoming report that he describes as a "city hall report," response time goals have been met only 60% of the time up in the Northland, as opposed to 82% before the take over. He also noted that ambulance shifts have gone unfilled, operations have suffered due to fire department inexperience with EMS, and morale is low.

What does an average person have to do to get those response time numbers on that "city hall report"? In this day and age of the internet, there is no excuse for this information not being on the web. EMS has been run by the KCFD since May 1--that gives two, almost three months of response data under the new regime. I can find none of it. None on KCMO's web site. None by search engine. None. Bupkis. Nada. Zippiddy do. (You got ideas about where to find the info? Share in the comment section please. If that's too public, give a point of contact and I'll get back to you.)

Is this going to require a big effort on my part, using words like "Freedom of Information Act" and lots of e-mails and phone calls? It shouldn't, really, it should not be hard for a citizen who has a life (i.e. not all day to bug the fools down at city hall) to find out how their EMS is doing with number of calls, response times, and other important data.

As to the (apparently) less than impressive results thus far for KCFD EMS, well, I am not surprised. With regard to the pension problems, well, I told you that would be a problem.

Photo: Cell phone pic of pumper and ambulance at a call at Blue Ridge Boulevard and Holmes.

P.S. Not only do I want to know response times and stuff like that related to performance, I want to know are we putting the same number of ambulances out at a given time of day that were out when it was MAST? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that during peak times, there are fewer ambulances then under MAST and at non-peak times there are more ambulances than under MAST. The system is just not as flexible as it was...


Anonymous said...

you're a two-bit blogger. they'd throw your FOIA in the trash.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Well! The first comment is neither kind nor accurate. Third, it misses the point.

As you stated, it is your status as a taxpayer, voter, and Citizen to be able to obtain this information. Furthermore, the FOIA need not be filled out by a journalist, or even by a troll, to gain compliance.

Now that I've dispensed with the troll poison, let's get to the content of your post!

I always find it an indicator when a site is hard to navigate, missing information, or fails to have crosslinks. Generally speaking this is that opaque transparency--it looks like it's there, and easy to access, only you can never get to it. City of Chicago's Web site is like that. It was well-designed to do exactly that. They suck.

You should be able to get this information. And By Gosh, i mean to support you.

Last of all, since it did come up, I don't consider your blog to be anything less than a local paper. You talk about weather, crime, city government, the animal shelter, national state and local politics, and have very fine editorials.

I don't live anywhere near you but I love to come here and reflect on (among other things) exactly how cities are run. I don't always comment on those posts, but I do read them.

So, give yourself the pat on your back you deserve. And if it does come down to a FOIA, tell them you are a journalist if you so desire. Because in fact, you ARE a journalist.

Spine counts more than spleen,
Ann T.

Capt. Schmoe said...

trust me, your FIA request will not end up in the trash. File it with the city clerk, he/she is legally obligated to fulfill your request, provided it is a reasonable one.

Good luck observer, let 'em know you're watching!

Anonymous said...

Your City council peeople should be able to give you those numbers.

Kudos to the above posts, with the exception of the first slob. Must be
Sherwood Smith.

Bob G. said...

I'm certain city council can provide those numbers...

If not, then maybe someone needs to enlighten them of such things as PUBLIC records, and FREEDOM of INFORMATON.

Then, there IS the local media sources.

I'm just sayin'...

Hope things work out.

You DO have a right to know.

(sorry if this is a duplicate post...first one didn't take)

the observer said...

Anon #1: My status as a citizen is enough to get info without a FOIA paper. The blogging is just a bonus. :-0

Ann T: Thank you for the support. KCMO's website is a mess, obviously designed, as you indicate, to be difficult to navigate. Wanna bet there's a web designer out there who specializes in pain in the ass websites?

As to being a newspaper, well, of a sort. If I can find something unique and bring it to people, that's good. Mainly, though, I have opinions!

Capt. Schmoe: Thanks for the support. I think I have a plan to try and get information. The city clerk is part of that plan. Yes, I'm watching.

Anon#2: I have some of the best commenters in bloggydom. And the clowncil is part of the plan--although I'm sure that John (not so) Sharp will be just thrilled to hear from a constituent about MAST. And your Sherwood Smith comment made me LOL!

Bob G: As you can see, I have plans. With regard to the local media (other than us bloggers), they should be checking this too. Not sure if they will--the fire union is pretty strong stuff for the local press.

Watch for more about getting the response time data--first step will be seeing what turns up after city hall's day tomorrow.