LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Captain Dawn Ray has been on the job for over 25 years. From EMT to paramedic, she has seen it all. But the pandemic hit a little differently.
“It was pretty scary because we were concerned whether or not we were going to have enough PPE to be able to cover the employees,” Captain Ray said.
abc27 went on a ride-along with Lancaster EMS to get a sense of what they’re seeing first-hand, and just like that, the calls started coming in. This is the norm these days, busy running from call to call with little to no downtime.
“This is a female that can’t get up from a chair. A 60-year-old female fell and can’t get up. Awake, breathing, and alert,” Captain Ray said.
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Many calls like this end up with people refusing help.
“It can be very straining on our system because it could take away from an acute emergency versus someone that just can’t get up,” Captain Ray added.
With COVID-19 still steering the wheel, that’s only complicated wait times.
“There’s been a lot of sicker patients as of recent, and it just has increased our call volume on top of already being short-staffed,” Captain Ray said.
Lancaster EMS is short 25 workers between EMTs and paramedics, something that often means they rely on other agencies to pick up their slack.
“At this point, a lot of us what we are doing is rob Peter to pay Paul. We’re lucky if we get anyone from outside the area to come in as a new employee,” Captain Ray said.
In fact, hospitals have been so backed up that EMS crews often have to wait longer times outside to transfer the care of patients.