Emergency medicine experts say evaluating a paramedic service based on its response times is a tricky proposition at best, depending on the type of emergency, geography, and other factors.

Yet last month, as New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill to transfer control of Camden’s paramedic services from the Virtua health system to Cooper University Hospital, both sides cited response times to defend their positions.

Some EMS departments set a goal of getting paramedics on the scene within eight or nine minutes in at least 90% of cases. New Jersey does not require a specific time. But a decade ago, a state panel recommended a target of 10 minutes, which Virtua says it routinely meets.

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