Charlotte Fire adjusts its responses to some medical calls

Soon, you’ll notice big changes when you call 911 in an emergency.

Channel 9′s Gina Esposito reported last year that you may have to wait up to 90 minutes to see an ambulance. Mecklenburg County health leaders approved those changes to make the 911 system more efficient.

These changes to responses also impact the Charlotte Fire Department. Unlike MEDIC, Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said the new response configuration won’t change its response time goals, meaning you should still see firefighters within minutes.

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Charlotte Fire’s goal is to respond to all emergencies within 6 minutes. All fires should see a response within 6 minutes and 20 seconds.

Under the new response configuration, there are some medical calls that firefighters will no longer respond to. A medic will handle behavioral health and stroke calls. Firefighters will still respond to cardiac arrests ahead of MEDIC. Chief Johnson said they can make a big difference in saving someone’s life by responding first.

“Typically, we get there within six minutes. And CPR is the thing that saves lives right, compressions and providing oxygen at that point in time. And so we do make a huge impact there,” said Chief Johnson.

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In some cases, you’ll also notice fire trucks responding to calls without their lights and sirens on. Chief Johnson said studies show it’s safer for firefighters and drivers. He said it applies to non-emergency calls, adding that they will still respond to fires and traffic accidents with those lights.

The decision to use or not use lights and sirens will be left up to fire captains. The chief said that might lengthen response times for non-emergency calls. He said it will all be evaluated and changes will be considered if necessary.

The new response configuration will impact Charlotte Fire, MEDIC, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and all county first-responding agencies. It’s expected to launch in April.

MEDIC is currently holding a series of meetings to educate the community on the changes. For more information, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: CMPD blames post-pandemic staffing shortages for longer waits when calling 911)