On Thursday, January 6th, the Carroll County Commissioners voted to expand their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) fleet by three units to be used for the remainder of Maryland’s COVID-19 State of Emergency.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the costs will be covered by federal grant funds. The Sun notes, “an EMS unit is comprised of at least two employees, typically an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a paramedic, or two EMTs if a medic is not available.” Michael Robinson, the Fire and EMS director for Carroll County, was quoted on the issue of COVID-19 related employee absences during a Commissioners Meeting:
“’We can’t say how many of them are positive for COVID, but it’s obvious what is occurring,’ Robinson said. ‘New [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines will allow us to get these people back quicker, but we still have the challenge, with no end in sight, with wait times’ particularly at Carroll Hospital.”
Director Robinson added that “EMS personnel often have to wait between two and six hours to drop off an individual at emergency departments in Carroll Hospital and other nearby hospitals.” Watch the full EMS discussion during the Board of County Commissioners Open Session from January 6th:
Carroll Hospital, Carroll County Health Department, Carroll County Department of Public Safety and Carroll County Department of Fire/EMS recently sent a letter to the Carroll County community, entitled, “Carroll Healthcare Overwhelmed; Pleads for Help,” detailing how COVID-19 has contributed to “unprecedented stress to pre-hospital (EMS) providers and Emergency Departments (ED) in Carroll County and the surrounding areas.” The letter makes the following requests of the public:
- Avoid going to emergency departments for issues such as coughs and colds, low-grade fevers and non-life-threatening issues.
- Go to primary care physicians or urgent care centers for non-emergency care.
- Take precautions: socially distance, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask.
- Limit your exposure to others, especially after you have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms.
- Get vaccinated and/or receive the booster.
- Help and encourage others to receive the vaccine.
These things will decrease transmission, which will thereby decrease cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. If you have questions about COVID symptoms, when to test, or what to do if you have been exposed, please use the extensive COVID resources at the Carroll County Health Department web page(www.cchd.maryland.gov).
- Use the emergency department as a testing center; go to testing centers(https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing) or use home test kits instead.
- Go out and/or gather with others when you or a family member is
- Interact closely with those outside your household.
Followers of Conduit Street know that EMS is one of MACo’s priorities this legislative session. What is happening in Carroll County underlines the need to ensure EMS services are adequately funded, and how important they are to public health.