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City Of Plano Changing Policy For EMS Vehicles

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PLANO (CBS 11 NEWS) - If you live in the City of Plano and call 911, the fire engines and ambulances may not run their lights and sirens.

The City of Plano switched to a four-tier Emergency Response System Monday.

Lights and sirens will be reserved for fire engines and ambulances heading to Level 1 emergencies. Only fire engines will run them heading to Level 2 emergencies.

911 dispatchers will categorize the emergencies on one of four levels. Susan Rodriguez, the Plano Public Education Representatives gave some examples.  “Level 1 – heart attacks. Level 2 would be something a little more severe. Maybe a fall. Level 3 is going to be your twisted ankle,” she said.

Level 4 would be the lowest priority, something like a headache.

“I’ve had a migraine for three days. I’m not in any condition to drive myself. But, I really need to get to the hospital,” Rodriguez explained.

Dispatchers will ask as many as 15 questions. The two most important: Is the person conscious? Are they breathing?

Ron Timmons, the Plano Public Safety Communications Director said, “If you tell us right up front that there’s something serious going on, no more questions. Dispatch happens immediately.”

Plano dispatchers have asked these questions for years. But, the prioritized response went into effect Monday.

Shaun Stakem is happy about that.

“I think it’s a great idea for the city because a lot of times, it’s been a little over the top,” he said.

He remember what happened when his brother broke an arm.

“Just for that call, they sent out multiple fire trucks, multiple ambulances. They blocked off Independence and it was like, it was just a broken arm. It was nothing that crazy,” he said.

He also thinks it’s a good way to save taxpayers money.

“So the money is actually going to what the level of intensity is,” he said.

Anthony Galloway isn’t convinced.

“It’s a Catch-22. But, I still think it’s an emergency. I’m 50-50 on that,” he said.

Ron Timmons said the city has been working on putting the new system into effect for the past six or seven months.

“We had a change in our philosophy across the fire department, really reflecting what’s gone on across the country in responses,” he said.

The new system is expected to reserve fire engines and ambulances for the most serious medical emergencies and to help with the flow of traffic.