Ambulance

LA County Ambulance Crews Told Not To Transport Patients With ‘Little Chance Of Survival’ 

Los Angeles County has been a hot spot for Covid-19 within the past six months, and now, it’s the worst it’s ever been. About one in five residents in the county are now testing positive for Covid-19, meaning within one month the county doubled its number of infections; around 40,000 cases on November 30th to more than 800,000 on January 2nd. 

The amount of new infections appearing is causing hospitals to be completely overwhelmed. In fact, all intensive care units throughout the region are now at maximum capacity. 7,600 residents of LA county are currently hospitalized and battling the virus, and 21% of those residents are in the ICU.

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With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in LA county have been given guidance to not transport patients with little chance of survival, as the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed can be made available. Hospital supervisor Hilda Solis recently spoke with the media about the current situation, calling it a “human disaster.” 

“Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units, we have people dying from this virus every 15 minutes.” 

Officials are also extremely worried because they know it’s about to get so much worse with new cases appearing from the holidays due to an excess in travel that still occurred despite all of the warnings against it. 

“The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers. We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic, and that’s hard to imagine,” said Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.

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Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) specifically directed ambulance crews not to transport patients with little to no chance of survival due to the need to conserve oxygen supplies. Los Angeles hospitals are at a capacity they never thought possible in the past. The county EMS said patients whose hearts have stopped despite efforts of resuscitation should no longer be transported to hospitals. 

“Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field,” the agency said in a memo sent to ambulance workers.

If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will continue to perform resuscitation for at least 20 minutes, and if the patient becomes stabilized after that period of resuscitation, they would be taken to the hospital. If a patient is declared dead at the scene or no pulse is able to be restored, paramedics will no longer be able to transport the body to the hospital. 

Some EMT’s told the press that even when they are able to bring patients into the hospitals they can be waiting between two to four hours almost every time. While these ambulances and crew members are waiting at hospitals, there are fewer healthcare employees and resources available to respond to other 911 calls. For now, no further lockdown efforts have been made to curb this spread in LA.

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