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Ambulances Delayed as ER Wait Times Increase

ambulance lights_7HOLYOKE/SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — As ER visits spike, so have calls to National Ambulance. “We’ve had situations lately where we’re out on a call, and there’s just not an ambulance available,” said David Spafford, National Ambulance’s Education Coordinator.

That means up to all 10 of their ambulances could be helping patients at once.

National is not a 911 responder, and gets called for non-emergencies, and when AMR, Springfield’s primary response is stretched to the max.

When they do go out, many of those calls lately have been flu-related.

They, too, get caught up waiting, dropping people off at hospitals. “They call an ambulance, a lot of times, thinking they can get to the ER quicker. A lot of times, that’s clogging up the system. We’ve had crews call in and say ‘We can’t clear out because we still have a patient on our cot’. They just have to wait,” Spafford stated.

That’s the case at emergency rooms around Western Mass, since there’s been a jump in patients visiting them. Holyoke Medical Center is no different.  “You really should have signs and symptoms significant enough that warrant coming to the ED, because a lot of people are out there walking around with gastrointestinal infections and colds, and I don’t want to prescribe to someone right now to come to the ER, just use their better judgment,” said James Keene, VP of Patient Services at Holyoke Medical Center.

Holyoke Medical Center has a plan in place in case they get too overwhelmed. “We have a procedure that we go through that other members of the hospital go through the ED to aid observe patients, and pull patients out of the ED that need to get admitted. So there’s a system in place,” Keene added.

AMR says they’ve been busy, but that’s typical for this time of year.


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