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San Diego Emergency Response Times Fall Short Of Goal


Liam Dillon, VOSD Reporter

Cherise Lomeli, Encanto Resident

Brian Fennessy, Assistant Fire Chief, San Diego Fire Rescue Department


First responders in the City of San Diego are often late to high-priority emergencies, according to a recently published investigative report from Voice of San Diego.

Based on numbers compiled by a city consulting firm and the fire department's own statistics, San Diego's emergency responders are frequently not getting to scenes fast enough, especially in some of San Diego's poorest neighborhoods.

Here are three takeaways from VOSD's investigation:

  • First responders were late more than 37,000 times to high-priority calls during a 21-month period ending in March. The goal is to get there in less than seven minutes 30 seconds, nine out of 10 times.
  • Five neighborhoods within 9.5 square miles south and east of Downtown have the highest risk for a delayed response: the area around Home Avenue in City Heights, Paradise Hills, College Area, Skyline and Encanto.
  • Medical incidents — not fires — make up 87 percent of the department’s annual 911 dispatches.

City leaders have said they plan to build fire stations in the affected neighborhoods by 2017 but they haven't committed the funding. Meanwhile, spokespeople for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department have said it can't meet its goals without more resources.

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