- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few yesterday said city ambulances are reaching patients about a minute faster than they did a year ago.
"We almost went from eight minutes to seven minutes [in first-responder calls], and I'm real happy about that," Chief Few said during a monthly press briefing.
He attributed improvements to getting first responders out of firehouses faster, developing a system to pinpoint emergencies on the Mall, and correcting a glitch in the fire department's computerized dispatch system that was wrongly increasing recorded response times.
The seven-minute figure Chief Few cited reflects the time between when an ambulance is dispatched and when it arrives at the scene of an emergency. The more rigorous standard measures the time between when an emergency call is received and when an ambulance arrives at the scene.
The industry standard calls for first-responder service within eight minutes for 90 percent of calls for life-threatening emergencies, or advanced-life-support calls.
According to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' "scorecard" on city agencies' performance goals (www.dc.gov/mayor/scorecards/index.shtm), Chief Few's department missed its goal of providing first-responder service within eight minutes for 70 percent of advanced-life-support calls last fiscal year.
Ambulances arrived within eight minutes 50 percent of the time, down from 54 percent in fiscal 2000. The current goal is 80 percent.
Chief Few said he hopes a vehicle-locator system in ambulances to let dispatchers determine the vehicle nearest an emergency will improve response times.
Failure to improve ambulance response times last year was one reason Chief Few did not receive a performance bonus. He shrugged off the bonus yesterday and said he is looking forward to meeting the scorecard goals this year.
"You know, money has never been a motivating factor around me being fire chief anyway," he said. "I just try to make sure I spend the citizens' money properly."
Chief Few also said he had not been directed by city officials to avoid answering questions about the resumes of his three top appointees. Last week, during a D.C. Council hearing, he told council members he could not discuss the resumes.
Yesterday, he said he was referring to a request by City Administrator John Koskinen that he not release documents pertaining to the investigation of the resumes when he declined to comment on them.
"As far as just speaking about it, I mean, you can speak about it, but if I don't have all the facts, I wouldn't be able to feel very comfortable just off the cuff answering some stuff about what somebody else is receiving," Chief Few said, declining to provide details on the investigation's progress.
The Washington Times first reported that the resumes of Assistant Chief Gary L. Garland, Assistant Chief Marcus R. Anderson and Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan say they each held the rank of chief at the East Point, Ga., Fire Department. But none of them ever rose higher than the rank of lieutenant, according to documents obtained from East Point's city attorney.
The resumes also say they attended universities that have no record of their enrollment.


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