Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Service Council

25 B Street, Suite A Burlington, Massachusetts 01803

781-505-4367 (voice) | 781-272-6967 (fax)


Service Zone Planning Assistance

The Region IV EMS Council has been tasked, through the Emergency Medical Services Regulations, to provide technical assistance and planning expertise to all communities and locales within the region during the service zone planning process. On this page you will find resources that will assist you in your planning process. Should you need more information than what is contained on the website, feel free to contact the Region IV office for further assistance.

Regional Requirements

In an effort to make the planning process as easy as possible Region IV is requiring that all Service Zone Planners utilize the following definition of response time when developing their Service Zone Plan. The reason for utilizing this definition is so that every service zone is utilizing the same nomenclature and measuring tool. The other purpose for utilizing the same definitions for response time is to aid the region in the development of a regional service zone plan. Without a common definition, it would be extremely difficult to develop a regional service zone plan that measures response times in multiple different manners.

As you will note the Region IV definition for response times are based on nationally accepted models. We are requiring that services utilize these definitions to define response time. We are not dictating the actual numeric standard that a service zone plan utilizes for each component of response, as this is up to the individual service zone.

Response time – providers shall use the following principal data points and a minimum of two (2) times to be reported to properly address and document "Response Time" for a service zone. These definitions are based on nationally accepted models and will allow the collection of response time data that will benefit all patients and EMS providers in Region IV. All clocks capturing these times in the Service Zone must be synchronized.

The two required components:

"Call Processing Time" is required to properly document the time that is sometimes not within the control of the EMS system. Consequently, it must be accounted for to determine the total response time from the patient's perspective.

"EMS System Response Time" is one overall system time; however, it is with our strongest recommendation that the times for each element be captured and reported to provide the Service Zone with the data needed to measure and improve EMS System Response Time performance.


Call Processing Time - The time from phone ringing with a request for EMS service (PSAP or other designated entity) to the time the EMS dispatch entity is notified with, or has obtained, enough information to initiate a response.

EMS System Response Time - from the EMS dispatch entity receiving enough information to initiate a response to the time a properly equipped and staffed ambulance arrives on the scene.

EMS System Response Time is comprised of the following three (3) elements:

  1. Dispatch Time - The interval between the time the call is received at the EMS dispatch entity until the time the EMS unit is selected and notified of the response.
  2. Turnout Time (Out of Chute Time) - The interval between the time the EMS unit is notified of the response to the time the EMS unit starts moving (wheels turning)
  3. Travel Time - The interval between the time the EMS unit starts moving until the EMS unit arrives at the scene and stops moving.

EMD should also be considered as it allows the Service Zone to provide immediate life saving assistance, obtain important incident information to safely dispatch appropriate resources, and differentiate between life threatening and non-life threatening conditions.EMD is an indispensable element to establish a high functioning EMS system.

All of the information given comes from Nationally recognized response time standards and definitions that can be found in publications such as NFPA 1710, NFPA 450, The Community Guide to Ensure high-performance Emergency Ambulance Service, and the National EMS Information System Dataset.