DALLAS, Texas – The coronavirus pandemic has strained the country’s hospital systems and pushed front-line workers mentally and physically as the number of cases spikes upward again. Some agencies dealing with budget issues due to demand in personal protective equipment (PPE) and an uptick in calls have been forced to shutter, begging the question of who will respond in the event of an emergency?
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed America’s 911 system and emergency responders to a “breaking point,” with ambulance operators exhausted and their services financially strained, according to the group that represents them.
The situation since the novel coronavirus struck last winter has grown so dire that the American Ambulance Association recently begged the Department of Health and Human Services for $2.6 billion in emergency funding.
(CNN)With the Covid-19 surge straining America’s health care system, the 911 emergency call system has been stretched to “the breaking point,” the American Ambulance Association says.
Ambulance services are critical in getting sick patients to hospitals for care, and the American Ambulance Association, which represents all of the nation’s ambulance services, said they are struggling to stay together.
Hospitalizations have reached an all-time high with more than 100,200 admissions, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And more than 3,100 deaths were reported Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The American Ambulance Association has warned that the emergency response system has reached a “breaking point” as the coronavirus rages across the country in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point,” Aarron Reinert, the president of the American Ambulance Association, said in the Nov. 25 letter, obtained by The Hill. “Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and West.”
Stefan Hofer’s ambulance company, West Traill EMS, in Mayville, North Dakota, has received only one or two calls that weren’t related to Covid-19 over the past two months. But he said the case count has ballooned by 20 to 30 percent because of the pandemic. At the same time, the company’s expenses have mounted, its revenue has cratered and its workforce is being decimated by the virus.
The company — which is private and supported by volunteers, a few employees and four trucks — covers more than 1,500 miles of North Dakota prairie and serves about 10,000 people on the far east side of the state.
Private EMS services, both in urban and rural centers across the country, collectively received $350 million in Covid-19 relief funds in April, but those companies said that money ran out within weeks. Months later, the need remains great as they face another coronavirus surge.
Conversations that Matter: Patient-Centered QI and System Design December 3, 2020 | Noon ET | Learn More & Register►
Most EMS systems claim to put the patient first, yet they still work 24-hour shifts, drive ambulances designed so that patients face the rear, and have QI systems that are not connected to the rest of the healthcare system.
Join us for this installment of Conversations that Matter, when facilitator Mike Taigman will explore how to create a more patient- and people-centered EMS organization with Jeff Jarvis, MD, MS, EMT-P, medical director for Williamson County EMS and Marble Falls Area EMS; former paramedic and hospital executive Bill Atkinson, PhD, EMT-P; and Brian LaCroix, EMS coordinator with the Center for Patient Safety. This session is sure to expand your knowledge and may just challenge your beliefs in the process.
Mike Taigman uses more than four decades of experience to help EMS leaders and field personnel improve the care and service they provide to patients and their communities. Mike is the improvement guide for FirstWatch and a nationally recognized author and speaker. He was the facilitator for the national EMS Agenda 2050 project and teaches improvement science in the Master’s in Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership program at the University of California San Francisco. He will serve as host and facilitator for Conversations that Matter.
Jeff Jarvis, MD, MS, EMT-P
Jeff Jarvis, MD, MS, EMT-P, is the medical director for Williamson County EMS and Marble Falls Area EMS. He is a practicing emergency physician at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Round Rock, Texas. His experience in EMS and the broader health care field spans over 30 years, beginning as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He has served as a paramedic in three states, the Texas State EMS training coordinator and department chair of EMS Technology at Temple College. Dr. Jarvis served as a member of the EMS Agenda 2050 Technical Expert Panel and represents the American College of Emergency Physicians on the National EMS Quality Alliance Steering Committee.
Bill Atkinson, PhD, EMT-P
Bill Atkinson, PhD, EMT-P, is president of Guidon Healthcare Consulting in Raleigh, North Carolina. He began his career in healthcare leadership as one of the first EMTs and then paramedics in the state of North Carolina. Dr. Atkinson went on to a lengthy career in healthcare management, running hospitals in South Carolina, Texas and Colorado before returning home to serve as president and CEO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center and, from 2003 until his retirement in 2013, WakeMed Health and Hospitals.
Brian LaCroix serves as EMS coordinator with the Center for Patient Safety. He recently retired as president and EMS chief of Allina Health EMS in St. Paul, Minnesota, where had started as a field provider in 1997. LaCroix also served as the president of the National EMS Management Association, is a fellow in the American College of Paramedic Executives and holds a paramedic degree and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. HE also consults with organizations to recruit senior EMS leaders, develop individuals and grow leadership teams and has worked on extended international EMS projects in Nicaragua, France and Croatia.
Center for Patient Safety
The Center for Patient Safety (CPS) provides expert support and resources across the healthcare continuum in our mission to reduce preventable harm.
For paramedicine providers CPS helps agencies cultivate a Culture of Patient Safety, manages a robust Patient Safety Organization for providers, offers education and support of mental and well-being of providers.
The Center is honored to be supporting the important dialogue of “Conversations that Matter!”
EMS Performance: NEMSQA Quality Measures Webinar
December 3, 2020 | 15:00 ET | Register Now►
Performance measures drive practice, protocols, spending, and behaviors across healthcare. The National EMS Quality Alliance (NEMSQA) is leading the charge in development, refinement and dissemination of quality and performance measures for EMS. Working with EMS organizations, stakeholders, partners from government and industry, NEMSQA updated the EMS Compass measures to ensure their evidence-basis and make them readily deployable across the EMS community to drive quality and improvement in patient care. This program will inform you about the work of NEMSQA, how the NEMSQA measures are being implemented already, and how you can employ NEMSQA measures to improve performance in your EMS service or region.
On October 6, 2020, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) conducted a memorial service for department members who had recently died. It was a somber ceremony for the many fallen personnel. The ceremony was very inclusive and noted the passing of emergency responders, FDNY civilians and mechanics as well as a paramedic who had come to NYC on a FEMA deployment to assist during the pandemic.1 The information on the notice also provided an opportunity for a preliminary agency-level epidemiology analyses to develop a better understanding of the risks faced by FDNY personnel in 2020.
Promising Interim Results from Clinical Trial of NIH-Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
An independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) overseeing the Phase 3 trial of the investigational COVID-19 vaccine known as mRNA-1273 reviewed trial data and shared its interim analysis with the trial oversight group on Nov. 15, 2020. This interim review of the data suggests that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in adults. The interim analysis comprised 95 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 among volunteers. The DSMB reported that the candidate was safe and well-tolerated and noted a vaccine efficacy rate of 94.5%. The findings are statistically significant, meaning they are likely not due to chance. 90 of the cases occurred in the placebo group and 5 occurred in the vaccinated group. There were 11 cases of severe COVID-19 out of the 95 total, all of which occurred in the placebo group.
Inside the Chaotic, Cutthroat Gray Market for N95 Masks
As the country heads into a dangerous new phase of the pandemic, the government’s management of the P.P.E. crisis has left the private sector still straining to meet anticipated demand.
…But as the coronavirus rapidly rode the channels of international commerce between continents, it turned the advantages of globalization into vulnerabilities. Right when the United States needed masks most, there were severe shortages. Chinese production had ground to a halt as the country locked down to stop the virus’s spread — and just-in-time supply chains dependent on their manufacturing quickly disintegrated. Baystate Health was consuming about 15 times more respirators monthly than during pre-pandemic times, and had no easy way of finding new suppliers. It would take months for American companies to build out new production lines…
More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
On Saturday morning, Megan Ranney was about to put on her scrubs when she heard that Joe Biden had won the presidential election. That day, she treated people with COVID-19 while street parties erupted around the country. She was still in the ER in the late evening when Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris made their victory speeches. These days, her shifts at Rhode Island Hospital are long, and they “are not going to change in the next 73 days,” before Biden becomes president, she told me on Monday. Every time Ranney returns to the hospital, there are more COVID-19 patients.