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Lake County audit shows wasteful ambulance, hospital response times

Updated:

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Lake County leaders are upset about what an audit found wrong with the Emergency Medical Services operation Wednesday.

Officials want ambulance response times to speed up and they also identified areas where tax money is being wasted on some emergency calls.

Seconds count in the ambulance business. For Lake County Emergency Services, it may be a second or two too many.

"I think we need to get on this right away. I find this very troubling," Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione said.

Members of the EMS board of directors said they were very concerned with the results of the audit of ambulance operations.

It found instances where response times were inaccurately reported.

"We were off by a few seconds on certain areas of the report. And in our line of business, we measure what we do in seconds," said EMS interim director Jerry Smith.

Smith has been selected to take over on a permanent basis and is already taking criticism for areas where tax dollars are said to be wasted.

Officials said in too many cases, Lake County EMS and Lake County Fire Rescue are responding to the same call when only one is needed.

"Both don't go. Somebody needs to say that. They leave the same station. I've seen them do it in my city, and it's ridiculous," said Welton Cadwell with Lake County Commission.

Last year, some county leaders suggested looking at a plan to outsource ambulance services to a private company.

Neighboring Sumter County did it, but Lake officials decided to stay the course. Now the issues with EMS will have to be addressed.

"We have another board meeting on July 9. So it will be implemented before July 9," Smith said.

The audit also found that Lake's three hospitals take too long to take charge of the patients the ambulances deliver there, which delays the ambulances from getting back on the road and in service.

It's another issue they'll said they'll tackle right away.