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San Diego Budget Cuts Mean Slower Response Time to Car Accidents, Other Emergencies

The McClellan Law Firm

San Diego motor vehicle accident victims and others involved in situations requiring emergency assistance are waiting longer for help, according to a recent city report. Budget cuts introduced in February require up to eight, or 17 percent, of San Diego's firetrucks to be "idled" at any given time. The plan is projected to cut more than $11 million a year in overtime paid to San Diego firefighters.

While this is certainly welcome to the city's fast-emptying pockets, it may not be such a good deal for those injured in car accidents, suffering from burn injuries or facing other catastrophic situations.

This is because, while cutting numbers from the budget, the plan adds numbers in another crucial area - the time it takes firefighters to respond to emergency situations. The report noted a significant increase in response time at seven of the eight fire stations where the idling plan was put into place.

For example, at Fire Station 21 in Pacific Beach, response time was up by 56 seconds. In a situation where moments can determine life or death, such a delay becomes much larger than it seems on the face.

In San Diego, firefighters receive well over 120,000 emergency calls a year. While the industry standard is to respond in less than five minutes to 90 percent of these, San Diego firefighters have struggled to meet that standard even half of the time.

In some cases, car accident victims and others have waited more than 10 minutes for assistance.

The solution would appear to be a removal of the budget cuts levied on San Diego emergency personnel - though, in the end, that's no solution at all for the city. The budget cuts are still new, however, and it remains to be seen just how broad the impact will be on San Diego, its citizens and its emergency personnel.