By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Minutes and seconds count when it comes to saving lives. With Fort Lauderdale growing like it is, response time for EMS calls is becoming an issue in some areas.  One example is Rio Vista, just south of the tunnel off US 1.

“There’s a constant frustration among the residents and a long outcry for an EMS substation because response times were nearing 9 minutes in some portions of the neighborhood,” said Christina Currie, President of the Rio Vista Civic Assocation.

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Currie, who is the mother of two children, said, initially, the closest fire station was down town, leading to long response times. Then they got one closer, but still part of the neighborhood had long waits.

“About four minutes is where you start running the risk of someone having brain damage, so a short amount of time makes a big difference in the outcome of the medical providers,” Currie said.

Now comes the idea of substations. A site on SE 11 Court and Federal Highway will soon be known as Station 88.

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“Think about it like satellite offices or satellite stations, smaller, less costly to build and scattered around the city to have a high level of care and responsive time as we grow as a city,” said Fort Lauderdale District 4 Commissioner Ben Sorenson.

He said that city is considering the possibility of more sub stations.

“What we’re looking at right now is partnering with a private developer on Las Olas, have them build the EMS substation on Las Olas in combination of retail and parking deck and as a city we don’t have to bear the whole cost,” he said.

And the fire department also got a boost with the OK to hire 16 more firefighters to cover staffing.  They should come on board next spring.

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Station 88 still has a ways to go before it opens up. Right now, they’re in the permitting process, then they have to demolish the building, so it will likely take a couple years before the first ambulance rolls out of it.

Ted Scouten