Ambulance response times in Waterloo Region were noticeably lower last year, but one regional councillor says further improvements could be made without adding more ambulances to the region’s fleet.

“There’s one quick way of improving our response times significantly … and that is to have central dispatch,” Coun. Tom Galloway said Tuesday.

Regional politicians have previously lobbied the province to have ambulance dispatchers, who are currently provincial employees, brought into one facility with police and fire dispatchers, who are employed by the region.

Galloway estimates that by eliminating the time taken for 911 dispatchers to contact ambulance dispatchers, who in turn contact paramedics, at least 30 seconds would be saved off the average call.

In 2013, ambulances in Waterloo Region responded to 90 per cent of calls within 11 minutes and eight seconds, down from 11 minutes and 54 seconds in 2012.

A previously set provincial target of 10 minutes and 30 seconds is no longer enforced, but regional officials say there is still room for improvement – even if the signs are already positive.

“They’re all trending in the right direction,” said EMS chief Steven Van Valkenburg.

“We’re getting to the sickest people the quickest.”

The region’s response times are now measured based on the severity of the call.

In 2013, two of those six targets were met, while response times in all areas improved over 2012.

At peak periods, the region currently has 17 ambulances in service as well as three specialized rural response units.