paramedic

COVID-19 Fatigue Impacting San Diego's Emergency Personnel

NBC Universal, Inc.

As the omicron variant continues to sweep through San Diego ambulance workers are feeling the strain.

“I have seen a lot in the past but this is definitely something that I've never experienced before,” said Michael Grandchamp, Falck USA division supervisor.

Falck USA is San Diego’s newest ambulance provider. They replaced American Medical Response as the city’s ambulance provider two months ago. 

“So as well as new build-up and rollout challenges, we've had a lot of, you know, challenges regarding the pandemic as well,” said Grandchamp.

According to Falck, at least 25% out of the 400 people they have on staff have been out of work at some point or another since the middle of December. 

In addition, Falck says their ambulances are experiencing longer delays when turning over patients to local hospitals.

“It's not uncommon to see two to four hours sometimes we've even hit the six-hour marker,” said Grandchamp.

NBC 7 reached out to several San Diego hospitals to ask about the delays.

Representatives from Alvarado and Paradise Hospitals responded with the following statement:

“This correctly describes the current situation in our community, and most likely many communities throughout our country during this latest surge in the pandemic. The main difference, this time, is the widespread community infections have affected our own staff, as we hear it has affected everyone else. A sudden increase of sick patients coupled with staff shortages due to the virus consequently leads to service slowdowns.”

Call volume has also gone up by 30% in the past six weeks, according to Falck. 

Falck, the City of San Diego's new ambulance provider, began service on Saturday, months after the city council voted to switch providers. NBC 7's Kelvin Henry reports.

“You know, that whole term of covid fatigue, its definitely affected our workforce,” said Grandchamp.

Still, he says they’re staying strong.

"Our paramedics and EMTs have been through a lot last few years, but they're very resilient, and they wake up each day ready to go out and serve the community,” said Grandchamp.

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