Studying Fire and EMS Accesibility in the Context of Urban Sprawl

Authors: Alexander Temes*, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Medical and Health Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Public Safety, Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, GIS, Response Time, Network Mapping, Urban Sprawl
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Balcony B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Phoenix Metropolitan Area (PMA) features the lowest population density of major US urban areas. Due to unique local geographies and broad urban sprawl, the PMA features an emergency medical dynamic unique compared to other major American cities. Each city in the PMA operates its own independent, combined Fire/Emergency Medical Service (EMS), with some cities partnering with private ambulance corporations to provide patient transport. Between sprawl and differing Fire/EMS policies, the topic of service areas becomes a critical issue. This research sought to develop a measure of how well cities provide Fire/EMS care in the context of sprawl, and identify how well service is provided to people over 65, a demographic that disproportionately consumes Fire/EMS resources. Methodologically, this research developed a metric that combined national Fire/EMS response time standards with a generally accepted limit of hospital transport times. This metric was integrated into the ArcGIS Network Analyst tool to identify which Phoenix municipalities provided the highest degree of service, how these zones served to the elderly population, and to identify segments of the area that may need more Fire/EMS or hospital resources. This research found that the elderly population and hospitals were highly clustered. Fire/EMS services were also slightly clustered, as different cities allocated resources in relation to their own city’s needs. In relation to sprawl, this left parts of the city on the fringes in extended Fire/EMS response time areas. Future, ongoing research will include an improved Fire/EMS-focused network analyst tool and comparative study against other Sun Belt cities.

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