WaPo | Pandemic is pushing America’s 911 system to ‘breaking point’

From the Washington Post by William Wan on December 3, 2020

Pandemic is pushing America’s 911 system to ‘breaking point,’ ambulance operators say
Surging demand, financial strain are leaving ambulance teams exhausted and running out of funds

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.

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CNN | 911 emergency medical system in US ‘at a breaking point’

From CNN Health by Shelby Lin Erdman on December 2, 2020

(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.

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The Hill | 911 system at ‘breaking point,’ AAA Says

From The Hill by Zack Budryk on December 3, 2020

911 system at ‘breaking point,’ American Ambulance Association says

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.”

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NBC | Ambulance companies at ‘a breaking point’ after receiving little Covid aid

From NBC News by Phil McCausland on December 1, 2020

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.

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NYT | Family Decontamination Station

From the New York Times

Their Pandemic Safety Plan Starts With a ‘Decontamination Station’
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of many American families. Follow this weekly feature called “Family, Interrupted” to find out how.

Quentin and Stacy Blakley opened the “decontamination station” in their home garage as the coronavirus pandemic took root in Georgia in March and have never shut it down. Mr. Blakley, 45, an Atlanta firefighter based at the city’s international airport, uses it to protect his family from a job that exposes him to strangers daily. At the end of each 24-hour shift attending to aircraft emergencies and medical calls, he returns to his South Fulton, Ga., home and removes his uniform in the garage. No exceptions. He showers away from Stacy, 45, and their four sons — ages 14, 12 and a set of 9-year-old twins — then dumps his clothing in a bag to be washed. Finally, Mr. Blakley walks into his house.

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NYT | The Long Darkness Before Dawn

From the New York Times

The Long Darkness Before Dawn

With vaccines and a new administration, the pandemic will be tamed. But experts say the coming months “are going to be just horrible.”

The nation now must endure a critical period of transition, one that threatens to last far too long, as we set aside justifiable optimism about next spring and confront the dark winter ahead. Some epidemiologists predict that the death toll by March could be close to twice the 250,000 figure that the nation surpassed only last week.

“The next three months are going to be just horrible,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health and one of two dozen experts interviewed by The New York Times about the near future.

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NPR | COVID-19 In U.S. Weeks Earlier Than Previously Known

From NPR

Coronavirus Was In U.S. Weeks Earlier Than Previously Known, Study Says

The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.

The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn’t until Jan. 19 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.

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Massachusetts | Stress On EMTs Increases During Pandemic

From CBS Boston

‘You’re Always Thinking About COVID,’ Stress On EMTs Increases During Pandemic

MEDFORD (CBS) – Frontline workers are now in their ninth month battling the COVID-19 pandemic. For Emergency Medical Technicians coronavirus has introduced a new kind of uncertainty to their jobs.

“You’re always thinking about COVID,” paramedic Victor Markaze told WBZ-TV. “You don’t know who’s sick and who’s not sick anymore, so now everyone is being treated as sick.”

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JEMS | Ambulance Market Growth

From JEMS

Ambulance Services Market to Grow by $7.77 Billion amid COVID-19 Spread

Market research firm Technavio says the ambulance services market is poised to grow by $7.77 billion during 2020-2024. The report offers an up-to-date analysis regarding the current market scenario, latest trends and drivers and the overall market environment.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the growth of various industries, however, the immediate impact of the outbreak is varied. While a few industries will register a drop in demand, numerous others will continue to remain unscathed and show promising growth opportunities. COVID-19 will have a low impact on the ambulance services market. The market growth in 2020 is likely to increase compared to the market growth in 2019.

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JEMS | FDNY EMS & Fire Fatalities Jan-Aug 2020

From JEMS on November 19, 2020

Occupational Fatalities Among EMS Clinicians and Firefighters in the New York City Fire Department; January to August 2020

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.

NYT | N95 Gray Market

From the New York Times on November 17

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…

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Atlantic | No One Is Listening To Us

From the Atlantic

‘No One Is Listening to Us’

Bloomberg | NYC Mental Health Responders in Place of Police

From Bloomberg CityLab

NYC Pilot Tries Mental Health Responders in Place of Police

New York City plans to test out a program where dispatchers send out emergency medical services and mental health crisis workers, instead of police officers, to mental health-related calls, making it the latest city to attempt a pivot away from policing as a cure-all.

The city’s mental health teams will work in two high-need communities starting in February. They will include health professionals and crisis workers from the fire department’s emergency medical services division. They will respond in place of the traditional police and paramedic teams, except in cases that involve a weapon or imminent danger, according to a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office this week.

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EMS1 | Inside EMS Podcast: Elephants In the Room

From EMS1 featuring AAA Communications Chair Rob Lawrence

What to do about the EMS elephants in the roomOur hosts discuss industry hot topics that will need to be addressed in the future, including the debate about responding with lights and sirensNov 6, 2020
This episode of Inside EMS is sponsored by ImageTrend, the creators of the free mobile app for first responders, CrewCare. It’s time to thrive.

In this episode, host Chris Cebollero speaks with guest host Rob Lawrence about his recent keynote address at the American Ambulance Association’s Annual Conference. Lawrence shares his thoughts on his EMS “elephants in the room.” Where should EMS stand on the issue of responding with lights and sirens? Do EMS practitioners need college degrees? Listen to the discussion and join the debate in the comments below.

In Memory of Larry Anderson

With heavy hearts, the American Ambulance Association shares the passing of former board member Larry Anderson. Please see the announcement below from Ron Slagell of Emergent Health Partners.

Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and former colleagues.

Larry retired in 2006 as the CEO of LifeCare Ambulance, a company he helped found in 1983 when the community’s EMS system was in crisis.  Larry had a lengthy career before his involvement in EMS as a hospital administrator, and was also involved in the creation of Huron Valley Ambulance.
LifeCare served on the Board and Committees of many non-profit organizations including MAAS and the American Ambulance Association, where he championed that ambulance accidents should be referred to as crashes, because most are preventable.
He was committed to his community, was known as an advocate for collaboration, and was passionate about patient care and safety. His contributions to EMS and public health will be long standing well beyond the time he was with us.

KFF 2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey

From the Kaiser Family Foundation on October 8

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. The 2020 survey included 1,765 interviews with non-federal public and private firms.

Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $21,342 this year, up 4% from last year, with workers on average paying $5,588 toward the cost of their coverage. The average deductible among covered workers in a plan with a general annual deductible is $1,644 for single coverage. Fifty-five percent of small firms and 99% of large firms offer health benefits to at least some of their workers, with an overall offer rate of 56%.

Survey results are released in several formats, including a full report with downloadable tables on a variety of topics, a summary of findings, and an article published in the journal Health Affairs.

REMSA’s Tiered System Featured on Aging & Awesome

Recently, Reno’s REMSA launched a tiered response model. The news segment from Aging and Awesome featured below offers a clear explanation about how using a variety of healthcare provider levels for an out-of-hospital medical response is an effective and safe way to help patients access the healthcare they need – which can range from an urgent ambulance transport to the emergency room or access to a telehealth provider.