Both the quantity and quality of lives saved by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) crucially depend on the response time. Since the cost of provision differs accross regions, providing equal optional access to EMS results in an equity-efficiency trade-off. We offer a theory of EMS provision to contrast the results of an equal access policy to a policy aimed at maximising survival. EHS cost and output data from 14 German Länder support the hypothesis that German policy makers are adopting an efficiency approach in choosing response time. Differences in the choice of maximal response time can be accounted for by differences in EMS cost. EMS data for a region where a uniform response time applies allow us to estimate the magnitude of the intra-regional variations in the value of life resulting from an equal access policy.