Ambulance Shortage Could Lead to Major Catastrophe During Disasters
OKLAHOMA — September 16, 2018
According to recent statistics, in some cities in the United States, there is a huge problem with ambulances. Or to be more precise, lack there of.
Given the range of hurricanes and other natural disasters occur in the US, it is difficult to imagine what to do and how to adequately handle injuries during emergencies due to a lack of ambulances.
It can be easy for the public to assume that when they dial 911, the cavalry will arrive quickly to save them, will know what to do, and will have the resources to take care of their every need. But what many fail to understand is that there’s a very serious staffing crisis in the field of emergency medical services, and many major cities are feeling the effect. That effect is compounded in rural areas... and the problem is not only one facing the United States.
According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), rural EMS departments are facing the biggest challenges. On-the-job stress is not unusual for EMS workers and combined with long hours, low pay, and an increase in ambulance calls, this is causing their ranks to thin as co-workers burn out and quit as they snag higher paying and lower stress jobs with better hours. The emergency worker shortage, seen nationwide, could endanger patients’ lives through increased response times, and a disaster could mean many go without the vital medical care they will need to save their lives.
For example, in Hamilton (Canada) there have been 31 situations where one or no ambulance was available to respond to an emergency. This was known as a 'code zero.' The same cases were repeatedly in the US.
This shortage of ambulances and EMS staff could affect us all should a disaster strike. The average response time is already 15 minutes and 19 seconds, and with these reported shortages, patients often wait hours to be transported to the hospital. That’s a rather long time for a person suffering from a heart attack. But with government funds and promises always limited to what can be taken from others, what can you do to protect yourself and give you and your family a fighting chance after a disaster when an ambulance is just not available?
Therefore, while politicians focus on big and obvious problems, simple but crucial issues like a lack of ambulances are left unresolved.