Guilford County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright has to stay calm under pressure because of the job he occupies, and he does that.
However, Albright was very animated and grim at a Thursday, Sept. 2 Guilford County Board of Commissioners work session when he explained the current immense strain on the county’s ambulance service.
Albright’s message to the board was nothing short of alarming. Ambulance demand is far outpacing supply, and, unless something major is done soon, the service is going to falter.
Albright told the commissioners in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House that ambulance services in Guilford County were taking on water from all sides. COVID-19 patients are calling ambulances in droves. Some drivers are out of work due to the pandemic, and response times are expanding due to overwhelming demand in the 651 square miles of the county.
Albright said one performance measure the department uses is having at least 90 percent of calls answered in under nine minutes. While in the past the department has met that goal, now only 55 percent of the calls are being answered in that time frame.
The Emergency Services director told the board that the statistics from August were overwhelming and the projections for coming months are alarming.
“This is something that is unsustainable quite frankly,” he told the board.
Albright said emergency responders across Guilford County were getting burnt out and they were taking jobs in nearby counties where the demand wasn’t so intense.
One solution on the table is allowing the Emergency Services Department to look for one or more contract providers on an emergency basis. Albright said that, given the universal demand right now for emergency response workers, it’s not clear that there will be any takers.
The county commissioners seemed appropriately alarmed and several – including Chairman Skip Alston – expressed a desire to give Albright and his department the support he needs to address the problem.
“At the Sept. 2 work session, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing necessary to take steps to remedy the situation in the manner suggested by Albright.”
After the meeting, Commissioner Alan Perdue said the potential cost of getting another service provider was unknown currently but it should not be prohibitive for the county because much of the cost could be made up with revenue generated by each ambulance ride.
This is just another problem that could be easily solved if the unvaccinated idiots would get vaccinated.
John, you are ignorant. Educate yourself my friend on the science … please
I think you are the ignorant one. Look at the numbers of vaccinated versus unvaccinated. It’s the unvaccinated causing the problem.
Having a different opinion doesn’t make him ignorant miss informed maybe but not ignorant. Maybe he was one of the special children in school.
John, have you heard of breakthrough cases? They are on the rise. And there are cases where vaxxed people are still hospitalized. And with the emergence of all these variants, the vaccine effectiveness is dropping like a rock
Monroe, have you heard that virtually no breakthrough cases require hospitalization? Something like 97% of those hospitalized with covid are unvaccinated. Get the facts, please.
Maybe we should ask why board of directors voted for no new hires but they are getting FEMA Medics to cover Guilford County????
It’s not a covid taxi service nor a dedicated addict transport. Start refusing calls that are non-emergent. It wouldn’t fit the narrative or PC culture, but it would give some much needed relief.
At face value, that sounds like a logical and easy solution to the problem. But consider this:
When we begin to neglect the less emergent or lower priority calls, we face the likelihood (and I would almost argue the certainty) that truly sick or injured patients will suffer. You would be surprised at the amount of calls we receive for simple complaints such as “abdominal pain” or “not feeling well”, and arrive on scene to find a patient who is actively having a heart attack.
Dispatchers are only able to prioritize calls based on the information they are given by the caller, and the caller may be under-exaggerating or over-exaggerating the severity of the situation. In either case, the dispatcher has no way to physically assess the patient over the phone. That’s where we (EMS) step into our role as providers, and become the “boots on the ground”. Our job is to respond to everything from paper cuts to shootings, from earaches to cardiac arrests. Our job is to skillfully and compassionately care for those who need us.
The second we refuse response to a “non-emergency” call, we are actively choosing to put the safety of our community at risk. And as someone who is very passionate about their job, no matter how exhausting it can be, I am horrified at the thought that an individual would be denied the care they need because their complaint wasn’t “serious” enough.
So maybe once the EMTs get there, they can assess the patient and refuse to transport them if they don’t have an emergent medical condition.
As a point of clarification, the Board approved a public hearing to allow an emergency provision to be added under the Guilford County ordinances involving ambulance franchises. If approved, it would allow for a time-limited emergency contract for a non-emergency ambulance provider (however given the impact of the pandemic, we do not believe there will be a significant interests).
Lots of county taxpayer money for the “woke “ causes but nothing for the life and death infrastructure of f the county. Shame on the powers that are in charge
Just fyi article writer, GCEMS doesn’t have “ambulance drivers.” No need to keep kicking them down since the overuse of 911 is doing that sufficiently. The correct term you’re looking for is Emergency medical technician. Could even break it down into EMT-paramedic or EMT-Basic, or even the rouge EMT-Intermediate. Just saying, no one likes a crack at one’s career title, intentional or not.
Quick responce vehicles with audio video capabilities inorder to have face to face consults with a real Dr. The paramedic can make the connection when apropriate. This will reduce call volume increase revenue because its a medical evaluation. The paramedic on scen can do ekg puls ox vital signs and neuro assesments under the supervison of an Md and who ever the md 8s who does this wil get rich talking on the phone.
1511 19th street
Let’s be honest here, people aren’t leaving Guilford County just because of call volume. They are leaving because the agancy has been mismanaged for years and circling the drain for a long time. Perhaps if we look at the problem from the top down, a solution might better present itself.
What about the county Fire Departments?
Could they operate an ambulance and help handle the calls in the county?
Perhaps interested parties would take on the task of preforming duites in the emt field if the guilford county BASIC emt protocoll test was changed and or eliminated; providing you with a plethora of STATE QUALIFIED candidates, rather than trying to make your own test to “one up” the states passing graduates….
Added stress we do not need in any county for the so called pandemic…id leave the county too if i had to Constanly prove im 1% better than surroundimg counties by being REQUIERD to have this extra step before i could join ranks of the GUILFORD emts…
If you take someone to the emergency room, they will likely have to wait. If they arrive by ambulance, they are seen right away. So, if you want to seen right away, you have to call an ambulance first. Many people know this.
Problems is… there’s been a way to mitigate short staffing for emergency services BUT nobody has utilized it because of “liability”. It’s there to protect Emergency Services Personnel from what they’re dealing with. https://www.ncems.org/pdf/GSMemo-3-25-2020.pdf
That is complete falsehood. You have been misinformed and are passing on the same insane false information that encourages people to call 911 “to be seen right away”. As a paramedic myself, I have unloaded patients every shift I work in the waiting area, just where they should be put. Patients arriving via EMS are triaged to the appropriate location in the emergency department, just as if you would’ve driven yourself to the hospital. You brought to light a thought about calling EMS that can’t be any further from the truth.
From personal experience, I disagree.