Posted: Feb 6, 2013 10:06 AM by Caroline Flores - firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Feb 6, 2013 10:18 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI - When you call for an ambulance you expect one to come right away. But in Corpus Christi there is always a chance that won't happen. It's because the city has a shortage of ambulances.
"Jose! Open your eyes!" yelled a paramedic to an elderly man who had just seized.
Imagine if that elderly man was your father, grandfather, or husband and there was no ambulance available to save his life. That is the exact problem our city is facing at this very moment.
EMS Supervisors receive messages daily that tell them the city is out of ambulances.
"It means that on a daily basis you could call for an ambulance and not get one in a timely fashion," said Firefighter and Paramedic Steve Bowers.
And in a case like the elderly man who had a stroke and a seizure, time is everything.
"I mean every minute, every second actually counts. And that's the difference of you having your loved one the next day, or planning a funeral for your loved one," said Paramedic Lonnie Loosemore.
Because we don't have enough ambulances, that can be the difference between life and death in more than one scenario.
On new years eve alone EMS unit 10 made 32 calls in one night. And according to national standards, they should be making no more than 12 calls in one 24 hour shift. This leads to sleep deprivation and if you're the last call of the night, simple mistakes could kill you.
For example the man who seized could have fractured his spine, and sleep deprived Paramedics could forget to check that.
"At 5 o'clock in the morning after 24 straight calls and no sleep, you may just forget to do that spinal immobilization and actually leave that man paralyzed," said Loosemore.
It's a problem the city has known about for years. According this report given to the city 8 years ago, it suggested CCFD add an additional medic unit in the center of the city. Which they did.
But it was also recommended that a peak demand unit or ambulance was to be added to Station 6 as soon as possible. Which the city didn't.
"We do the job we do, but it's getting more and more... More and more of a challenge. So of course you know, would it help to have more units, more ambulances? Absolutely. Without question," said Fire Capitan and EMS Supervisor Roberto Ruiz.
The city plans on buying 2 more ambulances, but they don't know when.
But in a city that gets over 30 thousand EMS calls a year, with only 9 ambulances, most paramedics agree a minimum of 3 new ambulances are needed along with extra staffing.
While the city is planning on getting more ambulances they still don't know how they're going staff them. With the staffing shortages the fire department is already having, firefighters say this has the potential to cause only more issues for both the fire fighters and residents.
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