Influential Factors on Urban and Rural Response Times for Emergency Ambulances in Qatar
Introduction: Ambulance response times are affected by several factors and play a critical role in the outcome of patients requiring urgent treatment. This article aims to highlight the response time differences within and outside Doha (Capital city of Qatar), identify causal trends in slower response times observed, and explore related technological advances. Methods: High-priority response times were collected for a two-day period in three-hour time slots and categorised as urban or rural. The average response time within each time slot was analysed to determine trends and identify the worst peaks so communication logs between dispatchers and ambulance crews could be played back to determine the cause of the “delayed” response. Results: Over the period analysed, 394 high-priority calls were received with an overall median average response time of five minutes 32 seconds. The average urban and rural setting response times were respectively five minutes 15 seconds (n=311) and six minutes 22 seconds (n = 83). Radio communications of the highest median response time peaks for urban and rural response calls were analysed (n = 11): three with dispatchers giving directions, one crew reporting a physical obstruction preventing them from approaching the scene, and seven others containing no indication for the delayed response time. Discussion: Over the period analysed, high-priority response time targets were met 100%. As expected, rural setting response times were usually longer than in the urban setting. The average response times appear longer on the second day (Tuesday) particularly in the afternoon in the urban setting, but there is otherwise no apparent trend between the two days over the different time slots. Ambulance crew familiarity with their environment and clear information by the caller play an important role in an ambulance reaching the scene quickly but new navigation and information sharing technology is expected to alleviate challenges faced at the time of the pilot study.