Volunteer ambulance challenges

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WASHINGTON, DC – The American Ambulance Association says without relief, the 911 system “seems likely to break.”

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca spoke with EMTs in New York for more on the strain they’re dealing with when it comes to an already fragile system.

((Steven Kroll, New York Legislative Chair New York State Volunteer Ambulanceand Rescue Association))

When you have a shortage of volunteers and a shortage of paid paramedics and EMTs, it does create a level of stress on the system even in good times.

During COVID times that’s felt even more.

Jeff Call with the United New York Ambulance Network says in a lot of places people are afraid to go to the hospital so EMT’s are treating patients at home.

((Jeff Call, UNYAN Chairman-Elect)) We don’t get reimbursed unless we transport the patient so we’re seeing an uptick in those calls, and we’re not being able to bill anyone because Medicare and Medicaid don’t pay for treatment in place.

Additionally, calls are also taking longer and so are transports.

((Jeff Call, UNYAN Chairman-Elect)) We’re getting on scene, we’re spending more time evaluating them we’re trying to determine if they could or couldn’t have COVID like symptoms and that results in a different level of care that we provide on scene.

And, some EMTs are getting sick themselves.

((Jeff Call, UNYAN Chairman-Elect)) We’re seeing entire agencies get crippled really. If one paramedic or one EMT or one driver gets diagnosed with COVID you’ve got to remember that everyone they’ve interacted with within the last 48 to 72 hours could potentially be exposed as well.

The American Ambulance Association is asking for an additional $2.6 billion in federal aid for EMS.

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