, Gloucester, MA

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June 29, 2013

Delayed response sparks station talks

“Where are they?!” Robert Jobe called out, as he waited for the ambulance crew.

Barbara Jobe recalls kneeling next to her husband at their Lanes Cove home last Sunday evening, checking his vital signs as he winced at the searing pain in his chest and left arm. A 911 dispatcher advised Barbara to remain calm as she waited a dragging 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive from Central Station.

Though Robert was released from the hospital and recovering from the heart attack by Friday, “it was one scary night” for he and his wife, Barbara said Friday. Jobe’s heart rate reached 200 beats per minute at one point, more than double a healthy resting rate. His blood pressure spiked to 198/106.

Barbara stood in a state of disbelief, shocked at how long it could take for an ambulance to arrive at her home only a mile from Bay View Fire station that was staffed earlier in the day when she drove by. But that station was closed by the time heart attack symptoms rocked Robert out of bed around 9 p.m.

“Every time I’ve been to any meeting, I’ve gotten up, and I always bring up the fire station hours,” she said Friday. “I intend to be a thorn in the mayor’s side until this gets resolved.”

Now, just a week after signing the budget, some city councilors are second-guessing a contract and a budget that allows for more but not full station coverage at Bay View station in the new fiscal year, which begins Monday, while Mayor Carolyn Kirk emphasizes the full coverage that will come next fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2014.

City and fire officials have claimed that the department’s response time across the city’s 30 square miles is consistently less than 6 minutes more than 75 percent of the time, and 6 minutes is the response time cited in the city’s report from the national Insurance Services Office (ISO). The city’s ambulance corps is run through the Fire Department.

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