Where you live in the city of San Diego affects how quickly emergency response teams can bring help when you need it, according to a report released Tuesday by the 2013/14 San Diego County grand jury.

The report identifies five areas in the city with the longest emergency response times: Home Avenue in City Heights, Paradise Hills, the College area, Skyline and Encanto.

A ambulance operated by Rural/Metro Corp. for San Diego. Photo courtesy Rural/Metro

According to the report, the lag in response time is the net result of delaying the construction of new fire stations as the city grew from a relatively small city to a major metropolitan area, and by the city’s contract with its ambulance provider, Rural/Metro.

The contract requires Rural/Metro to respond to all 911 calls without assessing the nature of the emergency. Only about 15 percent of incoming 911 calls are real emergencies, according to the grand jury report.

The grand jury recommends that the city develop a better protocol for screening emergency calls to separate serious emergencies from those of a trivial nature. The city should also modify its contract with Rural/Metro to allow more flexibility in its responses to the calls, according to the report.

Training citizens living in the areas with slow response times in the use of CPR, and placing automatic external defibrillators in many easily accessible public venues, would also improve outcomes for those in need of medical intervention in those areas, the panel found.

Those recommendations could be undertaken by the city alone, or in collaboration with nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, as well as local community colleges offering nursing and other medical trining, the report says.

–City News Service