BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A.M.R., the company that acquired Rural/Metro and has the exclusive contract for ambulance service in Buffalo, has improved wait times in the Queen City following many years of criticism.

Compared to 6 months ago, the average wait time for all ambulance calls improved by 2 minutes, according to the City and A.M.R.

"We are ecstatic to report an incredible turnaround," said Thomas Maxian, A.M.R.'s regional director.

He attributed the quicker response times to more staff -- 100 additional medical professionals hired since June. He also said the company added about 20 new vehicles into the fleet.

"City ambulance service is now the best it's been in decades," Maxian said.

Mayor Byron Brown said wait times are actually at their lowest point ever documented in Buffalo.

The contract between the city and the company requires A.M.R. to arrive within 8 minutes, 59 seconds to the most serious calls, at least 90% of the time. There are time standards for other categories of calls as well.

"The response times in every category are meeting that 90th percentile, and in some cases closer to 100%, which is what we're striving for," said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.

The City and A.M.R. are also working to install a new data system to better connect A.M.R. and A.D.I., the City's Ambulance Dispatch and Inspection. This will remove duplicative data entry and enhance communication, according to Maxian.

"It should further reduce ambulance response times, because we're going to be able to start an ambulance in motion more quickly than we are under the current system," Maxian said.

That system should be installed in the near future.