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Lexington Council hears how to improve county's emergency response plan

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Tuesday evening, Lexington County Administrator Joe Mergo presented his Administrator's Report to council members.

A major part of Mergo's report had to do with emergency management, so members of each department told council what they need to enhance the county's emergency response plan.

The Lexington County Sheriff's Department has a goal of responding to calls in 10 minutes or less, 90 percent of the time. In the third quarter of this year, the department only met that goal 63 percent of the time.

According to department officials, staffing is difficult because of the number of officers waiting to go to the academy for certification and officers currently attending academy.

The county's 911 communications coordinator, Nikki Rodgers, says her department wants to dispatch EMS calls in one minute or less. According to Rodgers, that happens less than half of the time.

"We fell woefully short of that goal," Rodgers told Lexington County Council members Tuesday night.

The goal for fire call response time is also one minute. The county fell short on that goal, too.

Call volume is a major reason cited for these issues. According to Rodgers, Lexington County 911 receives approximately 1,000 calls a day.

"Our biggest issue right now is personnel and station distribution," said Lexington County Fire Chief Bradley Cox.

Cox says the department is nowhere near close to meeting its goals, especially in urban areas.

"National standard is to place 15 fire personnel on scene in nine minutes, 90-percent of the time. We have two physical years of data there and we have zero percent each time," explained Cox.

Cox told council members that fire stations need to be distributed better and response districts need to be closer than they are right now.

There has been some improvement when it comes to EMS response time.

According to EMS Chief Brian Hood, 71 percent of the time, Lexington County EMS responds to a call in 12 minutes or less. The county EMS is approved to have 15 trucks on the road, but does not have the staff to make that happen.

"We staff typically 14 trucks in day shift and 13 trucks at night," said Hood.

According to officials, Lexington County has grown by 22 percent in the last 10 years, which contributes to the demand on public safety.

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