DAVIDSON, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — MEDIC leaders are making their way around Mecklenburg County, introducing a new response plan that will reduce the amount of time people see ambulances using lights and sirens.

According to these EMS leaders, ambulances are running a disproportionate amount of emergency responses compared to the actual number of emergency patients. They say 76 percent of their calls come in as life-threatening ones, but when they arrive at the scene, only five percent of them actually are.

Because of that, the agency, which serves as the county’s only ambulance service provider, says they will reduce the number of times they respond to calls with lights and sirens.

They’re also going to reduce the number of times they call in their first responder partners, like Charlotte Fire. These first responders are usually the first to arrive at a scene and provide aid until a MEDIC ambulance arrives.

“The purpose of this is that we want to ensure we are getting the right resources, to the right patients, in the right amount of time,” said MEDIC Executive Director John Peterson at Tuesday’s Davidson Town Board meeting.

By cutting back on emergency responses, MEDIC says they’ll leave more resources open for high acuity calls while making the roads safer. Studies show that emergency vehicles with active lights and sirens increase the risk of crashes by 50 percent.

As it currently stands, MEDIC responds to 69 percent of its calls using lights, sirens, and first responders. Their new plan would reduce that number to 19 percent. Outside of those high-priority calls, first responders would only use active lights and sirens on an as-needed basis.

“We know that from the studies that have been done in the past, running lights and sirens really only save an average of 42 seconds, maybe up to three or 3.8 minutes,” said Peterson.

At the same time, MEDIC says lower acuity calls may experience longer wait times.

Davidson commissioners expressed concern about how the new plan would specifically impact their town, as there is no permanent MEDIC ambulance stationed in Davidson. If MEDIC reduces the amount they utilize first responders, it’s possible that Davidson residents could see an even greater increase in wait times for non-emergent medical calls.

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“We’ve assessed that there is a likelihood that each first responder district will see a reduction in response volume of around 10 percent,” said MEDIC Deputy Director of Operations Jon Studnek.

Peterson told concerned commissioners that the agency would constantly assess the success of their new plan as it rolls out.

MEDIC hopes to implement its new response configuration in March. They will continue presenting the plan to town councils and are working on scheduling public information sessions.