Although Darien doesn't have paramedics on call in town, the average time they arrive at the scene of a reported emergency is well within national standards for response times.
That was one conclusion of a report to the Board of Selectmen from the Emergency Management Service Review Committee, set up by the town to review local public safety agencies' responses to 911 calls.
(Robert Gurliacci, a member of the committee, is a cousin of the writer of this article.)
Paramedics arrive on the scene, on average, 9 minutes, 21 seconds after the dispatching service for the town, CMED, receives a transferred 911 call from Darien Police emergency dispatchers, EMS Review Committee Chairman Jose Cara said.
Darien has no paramedics of its own, but uses paramedics from Stamford for emergency calls in town. Darien and Stamford have a mutual aid agreement for that. No similar agreement exists with Norwalk.
There, in a community more than four times the population of Darien, a commercial paramedic service operates out of Norwalk Hospital with three ambulances, the same number of ambulances that Darien has.
CMED could potentially dispatch a Norwalk paramedic to Darien, since it will dispatch the nearest available paramedic to the scene of an emergency, but that hasn't happened since at least the beginning of 2012, Cara said.
Cara spoke Monday night at the regular Board of Selectman meeting, presenting the committee's report. First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who said she'd looked into the matter before the meeting, pointed out that nationwide standard response times are between 8 and 12 minutes, putting Darien well within the norm.
On Stevenson's prompting, Cara said the Darien time is from the time CMED receives the call to when the paramedic arrives on the scene. The national standard is taken from local statistics, some of which measure only the time that ambulances or paramedics leave to get to an emergency.
For Darien EMS-Post 53 calls in which no paramedic is needed, response times are even faster—6 minutes, 1 second in 2012. Of the 1525 calls to Post 53, calls also went out to paramedics on 506 occasions, or 33 percent of the time, according to the report.
"Our response times are terrific," Stevenson said.
Selectman David Bayne said, "I think on the whole, the report is very encouraging. It seems Post 53 is doing a great job. If we can find ways of improving, we should do that, as well."
CMED has dispatched Post 53 crews to Norwalk or Stamford 96 times in 2012, but no similar mutual aid calls from either of those cities were required by Darien all of last year, Cara said.
Cara said the committee still wants to explore some questions. For instance, in the five cases in 2012 where someone was dead after 911 was called, the committee wants to see if even faster response times might have saved the life.
When committee members spoke with Post 53 Director Ron Hammer, "he stated that he had no knowledge of any situations in which a delay in paramedic services had adversely affected patient outcomes," the report stated.
"The EMS Review Committee concludes that emergency medical services within the town of Darien are adequae and that EMS response times are, as a whole, within accepted national standards," according to the report. "As such, the committee does not believe additional paramedic services are justified at this time."