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Current COVID-19 surge taking its toll on local ambulance services

Marion County Ambulance District, Hannibal, Mo.
Marion County Ambulance District, Hannibal, Mo.(WGEM)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:35 PM CST
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - Local paramedics are feeling the impact of this recent surge of COVID-19 in the Tri-States. The Marion County Ambulance District is responding to more calls and it’s weighing on their resources.

Paramedic Eli Bell said over the last two weeks, they have responded mostly to people who are sick with COVID-19, and their teams are tired.

“Everyone here from top to the bottom has been overly fatigued,” Bell said.

The uptick in COVID-19 calls means it takes them longer to get to other emergencies.

“We’re having to decon[taminate] which takes trucks out of service longer. When you only have three trucks in town like we do. It causes some delays,” Bell said.

Chief of Operations Eric Murfin said the strain hospitals are feeling across the nation is the same here.

“Their ability to deal with a large influx of patients is limited. That forces them to divert ambulance traffic, which then in-turn creates issues for us. We then have to go to the next appropriate facility,” Murfin said.

That means more time taking the patient to the next nearest hospital and more of a back up to their call logs.

“We have the fear that someone will need an ambulance and we won’t have one to send them,” Murfin said.

On top of that, they’re having to manage their own staffing shortages because of the virus.

“We haven’t experienced what some services have. Some services have lost entire crews at a time to COVID,” Murfin said.

He said they haven’t had to thanks to their personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures.

“We’ve been able to isolate it to one to two people at a time, which has been very good,” Murfin said.

So Bell said they will continue to do what they can and hope the battle against COVID-19 will get better and not worse.

Murfin asks for your patience as it could take longer for them to transport you to the next nearest hospital during times of diversion.

He said over 80 percent of their calls go to Hannibal Regional Hospital, but when they can’t, they’ll take you to Blessing.

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