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Hospital COVID crunch delays ambulances

Delays dropping off patients
Posted at 8:49 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 23:49:30-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The COVID crunch at the hospitals is leaving some ambulances waiting to drop off their patients. It can delay getting ambulances back on the road for their next call.

Ambulance crews can’t just drop off a patient and be on their way. They have to wait until they can be sure a patient’s officially under the care of the hospital. With COVID clogging the hospitals that could lead to a patient waiting in an ambulance while more critical patients get taken care of.

Tucson Fire normally expects its 17 ambulances to be in and out of a hospital in about 20 minutes. Tucson Fire Public Information Officer Michael Colaianni says lately it’s been more like 30 minutes.

“It's not like we're seeing five or six medic trucks all backed up at hospitals waiting to offload patients. That's not the case right now, It's maybe one, maybe two that are experiencing those long offload times and we're adjusting to those as best we can.”

Fire Departments say the COVID backups have not hit the point where there’s a shortage of ambulances available for calls but they’re watching for signs the issue could grow.

At Golder Ranch Fire District Assistant Chief Grant Cesarek says his crews are also seeing slight drop off delays and making sure they don’t grow into serious trouble.

“We definitely have to watch for it and I would, I want to tell you that over the last 18 months, this community, and community, I mean the healthcare community, the fire departments, the ambulance service providers. We've all come together to be able to work through these types of challenges.”

He says local departments already had strong agreements to cooperate and share resources to cope with demand and the challenges of COVID have made those arrangements stronger.