High-rise buildings create challenges for EMS

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — When it comes to calling 9-1-1, every second matters, especially in medical emergencies.

“They say your chances of survival decrease ten percent every minute,” said Joey Brannen, a Panama City Beach Fire Rescue paramedic. 

Brannen said that during tourist seasons, most of the day-time medical calls come from high-rise buildings, which can make speedy responses tough.

“We have to fight elevators,” he said. “We have to get all the way up and get to the patient and then that’s just the beginning. Then the patient also has to come back down.”

He said that getting an elevator in peak tourism season can add several minutes to a response. 

“A normal four minute response time could turn into an eight or nine minute response time,” said Brannen. 

Firefighters and paramedics have a recall key to get an elevator directly to them, and updated equipment can assist in high-rise situations. 

However, when it comes to things residents and visitors can do to help, Brannen and other PCBFR officials say knowing exactly where you are when you call 9-1-1 can make a big difference. 

“Knowing their exact location when they call, their address to the condo they’re staying at, the room number, if they’re in the east or west tower, things of that nature makes it easier for us to get there quicker,” said Justin Busch, a PCBFR Battalion Chief.

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