Paramedics under ‘excessive stress’ as toll of Covid pandemic climbs, ambulance company CEOs say

Now stretching into its ninth month, the coronavirus pandemic is placing vital pressure on paramedics and emergency medical technicians throughout the U.S., the CEOs of ambulance firms instructed CNBC on Friday.

“There’s a huge shortage of paramedics nationwide, whether it be for the public fire departments or the private ambulance companies,” Richard Zuschlag, chief govt of Acadian Companies, mentioned in a “Squawk on the Street” interview. “It’s an extreme problem right now.”

Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Acadian supplies medical transportation companies in its house state, as effectively as Texas and Mississippi. In his almost 50-year profession offering ambulance companies, Zuschlag mentioned hurricanes Katrina and Rita had been the “most severe” disasters to which they’ve responded.

However, the pandemic presents a distinct variety of problem. “This coronavirus has just been very difficult for us because we don’t really know when it’s going to end,” he mentioned.

“It puts an extreme stress on the medics, and I find a lot of our medics are taking early retirement because they’re concerned about catching the Covid disease,” he mentioned. And, he added, there are worries amongst his staff about bringing the virus house to their households.

Zuschlag’s feedback come as the nation’s seven-day common of new coronavirus instances was at file excessive of 179,473, based on a CNBC evaluation of information compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are also greater than 100,000 sufferers at present hospitalized with Covid-19, probably the most through the pandemic, based on the COVID Tracking Project.

More than 2,800 new deaths within the U.S. have been recorded in back-to-back days, Hopkins information exhibits. The elevated totals comply with remarks earlier this week from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, who mentioned “December and January and February are going to be rough times.”

“I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our health-care system,” Redfield mentioned.

The nation’s paramedics are experiencing it firsthand. The American Ambulance Association warned in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, obtained by NBC News, that “the 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point.” It is asking for extra monetary assist to assist climate the most recent surge.

“All of our workforce … are incredibly tired, stressed. The extra work that they have to do is very taxing, both mentally and physically, and there’s a lot of turnover,” Randy Owen, CEO of Global Medical Response, additionally mentioned Friday on “Squawk on the Street.” The Colorado-based company supplies fireplace companies and medical transportation throughout the U.S. and overseas.

In Louisiana, particularly, the uptick in coronavirus instances has once more precipitated challenges with hospital capability, Zuschlag mentioned. The state well being division mentioned that in hospitals within the Lafayette space, the place his company relies, almost each intensive care unit mattress was in use as of Wednesday.

Sometimes, he mentioned, the closest hospitals are unable to just accept the sufferers the company is carrying. “So we are forced to transport patients as far as 100 to 200 miles away to another hospital that can take them, and it just seems to continue to be a problem,” he added. “I know the vaccine will help. We just don’t know when this will slow down.”

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