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Invisible, unwelcome passengers in ambulance: COVID-19

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Los Angeles-Crowded behind an ambulance.

Two emergency medical technicians, a patient, Gurney — and an invisible, unwelcome passenger lurking in the air.

In the case of EMT’s Thomas Hoang and Joshua Hammond, the coronavirus is always in close proximity. The COVID-19 is a 24-hour shift in Orange County, California, and is the greatest horror of patient-to-patient and 911 to 911 call rides.

They and other Southern California paramedics, paramedics, and 911 dispatchers have been pushed to the forefront of the pandemic’s national epicenter. After a vacation, the hospital exploded with a surge in patients, ambulances waited hours outside the hospital for beds to become available, oxygen tanks were surprisingly scarce, and vaccines were delayed. Is struggling to help those in need.

Paramedics and paramedics have always dealt with life and death — they instantly decide on patient care, which hospital to compete with, and the best and fastest way to save someone — and now. They are just a breather from becoming patients themselves.

They wear gowns, masks, and gloves, “but you can only be very safe,” Hammond said. “We don’t have the luxury of being six feet away from the patient.”

It is difficult to find statistics on COVID-19 cases and deaths of paramedics and paramedics, especially paramedics employed by private companies. Although they are considered essential health care workers, they rarely receive the rewards and protection given to doctors and nurses.

Hammond and Juan are Emergency Ambulance Service Inc, a private ambulance company in Southern California. I work at. They, like many others, have long cultivated the goal of being the first responders to serve the community.

Juan attends a nursing school. Hammond is one test away from becoming a paramedic. Both were called into life in the medical field after experiencing trauma. Hammond had to call 911 after his mother had an allergic reaction, and Juan witnessed a young cyclist hitting a car.

However, they wonder as COVID-19 infections surge and risk increases. Is it worth risking your life, and the life of your loved one’s home, for a small salary and dreams?

“It’s really hard to justify it beyond’I really want to help people’,” said Hammond, 25. “Is it worth the risk?”

For now, yes.

“In a way, I want to play my part in helping people get better,” said 29-year-old Juan.

And their day starts at 7am

Wearing a mask, Juan and Hammond cleaned the ambulance and equipment and wiped all surfaces, even if the previous crew had already rubbed it. They don’t miss a chance during the all-day shift covering the city of Placentia in Orange County.

The 911 phone contains limited information such as fractures, chest pain, dyspnea, abdominal pain, and fever. All patients, whether they know it or not, are potential carriers of the coronavirus.

From time to time, people know they are infected and talk to the 911 dispatcher before the EMT arrives. It may also indicate that the symptoms themselves (fever, shortness of breath) may be the cause. However, Hammond remembers a woman who suffered from hip pain and did not tell him or his partner about the diagnosis of the coronavirus.

He then said that he strengthened the importance of treating all patients as if they were positive on the test.

“It was definitely the phone we learned a lot,” Hammond said.

Unlike doctors and nurses, first responders have to go inside the house. They walk into a hot zone where the virus is in the air and everyone in the home is ill. They lift the immobile patient to Gurney, and their masked faces are only a few inches apart.

They compete in hospitals that are already overwhelmed by sick people, sometimes just waiting outside for hours before patients are admitted. And when the next 911 call comes in, it will start over.

“We don’t know the final result,” Huang said. “We only know the beginning of the hospital.”

Then there are those who tell EMT where to go. In Los Angeles County, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Juan and Hammond, three young women recently stood in front of six screens, speaking to their headsets in a clear clipped voice, extending from the mountains to the sea. Marshalled other ambulance crew around the area. ..

Ashley Cortez, Adreanna Moreno, and Jaime Hopper work 12-hour shifts as dispatchers for Care Ambulance Service Inc. If EMT is at the forefront, these women are scouts.

They play chess in an ambulance all day long. If one person gets stuck in the hospital for eight, ten, or twelve hours, the dispatcher will need to relocate the other to cover the area. If the EMT reports a positive COVID-19 test and the entire crew needs to be quarantined, the dispatcher will need to find a way to cover the ambulance call. If a household has multiple coronavirus patients who need two ambulances, the dispatcher will need to close the hole.

Their greatest horror is what is called “level zero” — when there are no ambulances left to send to an emergency. Fear becomes a reality on a daily basis in Los Angeles County, one of the most devastated counties in the United States during a pandemic.

For 28-year-old Moreno, anxiety begins the night before her shift.

“I lie down there and know I’m in, and I know I don’t have a unit to make these calls,” she said.

On Christmas weekend, Cortez saw a pile of phones on the screen. There was no ambulance. It usually takes 30 seconds to send. The weekend took up to 15 minutes. And this was even before the ambulance began to suffer for hours outside the hospital.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Cortez, 26.

There is nothing more a coordinator can do. They look at those screens. They listen to the chat on the radio. They relocate the crew to cover as much area as possible. And they wonder what fresh horrors await in a virus-stricken world where there are too many dangers and too few ambulances.

“What if something happens to my daughter? And no one sent her?” Cortez said.

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