If you’ve ever had to call an ambulance or rush to the ER you know how precious every minute is. In the case of a cardiac event or stroke, those minutes can be the difference between life and death. Right now there is a winter surge in Covid-19 cases, the worst surge we have ever seen. CNN reports that since the surge started around Thanksgiving, the number of 911 calls has increased about 20%-30% which is causing delays in 911 response times and ER wait times.

Shawn Baird, the president of the American Ambulance Association says that ambulance response times are 2-3 minutes over target times. He says, “As resources get stretched thin, it just takes longer to respond." In regards to the elongated wait times in the ER these days, Dr. Ryan Stanton, a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians said, “you may have to wait for three or four hours."

Baird explains that most of what is tying ambulances up is having to call around and verify which hospitals are at capacity. According to CNN, in Muskogee County, Oklahoma a medic has to be at a hospital at all times to attend to patients arriving by ambulance. This is so the ambulance can leave and respond to incoming 911 calls. The medic then waits with the patient and administers care if need be until a hospital bed opens up.

Shawn Baird urges Americans to take the virus and this pandemic seriously saying, “The sooner we can all get on board together to end this thing with interventions that we know work -- wearing a mask, social distancing, washing our hands -- the sooner we can get on with our lives."

 

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