Ambulance Dispatches in Tokyo Increasing at Record Pace This Year

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An ambulance is seen in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo is seeing ambulance dispatches increasing at a pace faster than last year, when the annual total hit a record high, officials of the Tokyo Fire Department said Saturday.

As of last Sunday, the number of ambulance dispatches in the capital since the beginning of this year added up to 417,001, up by over 20,100 from the same period last year, according to preliminary data released by the agency. If the number continues to increase at this pace, this year’s total may exceed the record high of 872,075 logged last year.

The data also showed that it took nine minutes and 25 seconds on average for an ambulance to arrive at the scene after receiving a call for service in January-May this year. Although the number of ambulance workers has been increased, the time has not been shortened significantly from last year’s average of nine minutes and 43 seconds.

In response to such circumstances, the agency on Saturday started operating an ambulance crunch alert system that informs Tokyo residents whenever there is a sharp increase of ambulance dispatches. When the ambulance dispatch rate in Tokyo’s 23 special wards or the Tama region exceeds 80% and an emergency team is formed, an alert will be issued through the agency’s website and social media.

By making the ambulance operation status known, the agency aims to encourage the public to use its ambulance service in a more appropriate manner.

The number of heatstroke-related emergency ambulance dispatches increases in July-August every year.

“In times of [ambulance] crunch, we find it difficult to respond quickly to highly urgent calls,” an agency official said, urging people to contact the agency’s emergency consultation center by phone at #7119 when they are not sure whether they should call an ambulance.