Montgomery Co.’s ambulance service could be disrupted by crowded emergencies
“If nothing is done and we let the ambulances stay in the hospital for six hours, the next 9-1-1 call could possibly wait for an ambulance to come from further away,” Kaufman said.
While about 9% of Montgomery County fire and EMS personnel were quarantined, sick or injured, officials told OMCP that this was not affecting service. But, they said, overcrowded emergency rooms over the past two weeks could potentially lead to extended ambulance service.
“The six emergencies tell me: ‘We are seeing unprecedented numbers of people entering the ER and seeking treatment'” but they are not allowed into the rooms, said Montgomery Fire Battalion Chief Ben Kaufman , at the WTO.
He said people were going to the emergency room for a COVID test or had mild or moderate COVID symptoms, which could be treated at home.
Kaufman said long lines and lack of appointments at county testing centers could push people to hospitals, and “they think the emergency department could get them tested faster. “.
“So these emergency numbers have an impact on the ability of the ER to see an ambulance when they arrive because [there are] no emergency beds as they are all occupied by these patients entering the waiting room.
This has increased the time it takes an ambulance to admit a patient to the hospital or the time it takes to drop off. The increase in fitness began about two weeks ago.
“If nothing is done and we let the ambulances stay in the hospital for six hours, the next 9-1-1 call could possibly wait for an ambulance to come from further away,” Kaufman said. “We’re never going to say no, we can’t come. But that could mean longer wait times for an ambulance now. “
Kaufman urged anyone in need of a test to stay away from emergency rooms. He said people with mild symptoms should call a doctor’s office or go to an emergency care clinic rather than an emergency room.
“If you know you have COVID, and you don’t have chest pain, or you don’t have shortness of breath, and all you go to the hospital is to confirm the test, maybe being that you’ve taken a rapid test you want a PCR test – the public health side of things that aren’t needed. “
These long transit times constitute a tax credit for EMS employees and volunteers. The 9% of employees unable to work is almost double the usual day-to-day number. 4-5% of staff are generally not available for work due to time off or injury.
“We got to a point where we had to make decisions about staffing and service,” Kaufman said.
Last week the county temporarily redeployed personnel from the Clarksburg Aerial Tower Ladder Truck and a Heavy Rescue Unit for the Laytonsville Rescue Team.
“They are strategically chosen where there is a lot of coverage with other devices around.”
And while the department sees some stresses, there is cause for optimism.
He said crews are not seeing patients getting so sick from COVID this winter wave compared to the last.
“We have seen a much larger increase in the corresponding increase in the number of patients with breathing problems, an increase in the number of cardiac arrests, a higher number of patients with hypoxia and low oxygen levels. We don’t see that with that.
He attributed the county’s high vaccination rate, which showed that 85% of residents had at least one dose of the vaccine, and the fact that this variant tends to cause milder illness.
“But people are definitely getting sick from it, and you don’t want it,” Kaufman commented.