Local NewsCoronavirus

Actions

First responders are feeling the sting of ongoing COVID-19 surge

Ambulance
Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 02:42:34-05

This was supposed to be the week where everyone was getting back into the office—possibly for the first time in a long time. A rapid increase in COVID-19 cases from coast to coast is slowing the process yet again, and sick calls are also making it more difficult for our first responders.

AMR and MedicWest have about 15% of their workforce out because of COVID-19.

A number that is commonplace across the country.

“These are the same people we keep going back to time and time again, asking them to step up. And once again, they’re doing it,” said Jason Sorrick, public information officer with AMR/Medic.

He says that AMR is leaning on mandatory callbacks and overtime compensation to meet the demands of the system.

“We’re still very much in a disaster,” said Sorrick. “We’re still very much in a pandemic. And the pace at which this particular variant is moving is obviously nothing like we’ve seen before.”

In some instances, response times could be a little slower. But one issue is slowing first responders down more than anything right now.

“If patients think that we’re going to get on-scene and provide COVID testing, that’s not happening,” he said.

“Follow up with your local provider, go to an urgent care, go to somewhere else,” said Samuel Scheller, chief executive officer at Guardian Elite Medical Services. “Go to a community testing site, contact Southern Nevada Health District. But do not go to an emergency room just for a COVID test.”

Guardian Elite Medical Services is working around its own increase in call-outs.

“We have all hands on deck right now,” said Scheller. “So, everybody from our managers, our dispatchers, our supervisors, all the way to our field-level providers—they’ve been on the trucks running calls, making sure we’re able to respond in an appropriate manner to a 9-1-1 call.”

They are anticipating these staffing shortages through February and ensure that no matter what happens, they will find a way to respond to emergencies.

“We’ll get through this,” said Sorrick. “It’s just going to be a rough time and a tough going.”

AMR says it is down about 30 employees right now, while MedicWest is short around 15 in the valley.