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U.S. Emergency Call System Faces ‘Breaking Point’

ambulance

December 4, 2020 -- As COVID-19 cases continues to surge across the country, the 911 emergency call system is reaching a “breaking point,” according to the American Ambulance Association.

Ambulance services respond to emergency coronavirus calls and transport patients to hospitals to receive treatment. The U.S. broke an all-time high Wednesday with more than 100,200 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

“The 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point,” Aarron Reinert, the president of the American Ambulance Association, wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, CNN reported.

“Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and West,” Reinert wrote.

Public and private ambulance services in all 50 states need additional funding to last through the pandemic surges, he wrote, requesting $2.6 billion in allocations from the Provider Relief Fund for ground ambulance groups in particular.

“Similar to hospitals and many skilled nursing facilities, ground ambulance service providers and suppliers since March have been serving their communities in a disproportionate manner to their traditional role,” he wrote.

The U.S. has about 60,000 ambulances. If granted, each ambulance in the U.S. would receive $43,500 for operations and supplies such as personal protective equipment, Marie Bianchi, the group’s CEO, told CNN.

“What is happening is you’re seeing services stretched and stretched and stretched and stretched, like a rubber band, and we’re still being pulled,” she said. “I think the concern is that rubber band breaking and that we’re close to that point.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

COVID Tracking Project, “National: Hospitalization.”

CNN, “911 emergency medical system in US ‘at a breaking point,’ ambulance group says.”

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