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In wireless sensor network studies the main objective is minimizing the energy consumption so that the lifetime is maximized under the limited battery capacity constraints. In most event-driven surveillance applications, the end-to-end delay should also be minimized. In this paper we present a new BT-MAC (balanced energy-latency tradeoff Media Access Control) which reaches a good balance between energy efficiency and latency. Simulations of a surveillance application verify that the proposed method successfully improve both delay and energy efficiency of the medium access. The end-to-end network performance is also investigated and the results show that using the heuristic method proposed the overall network performance can be improved.