|Covid Increasingly Stressing EMS And Hospital Resources In Region|
|By Public Information Officer Bill Rehkopf|
|December 21, 2021|
As the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to rapidly spread, the impact on the pre-hospital (EMS) system and emergency departments in Maryland continues to dramatically increase.
Attached is the status of hospital Emergency Departments in the Baltimore region as of 12:30AM, 12/21/21. You'll see that many of the hospitals are listed under both "Yellow Alert" and "Red Alert."
Yellow Alert means "The emergency department temporarily requests that it receive absolutely no patients in need of urgent medical care. Yellow alert is initiated because the Emergency Dept. is experiencing a temporary overwhelming overload such that priority II and III patients may not be managed safely. Prior to diverting pediatric patients, medical consultation is advised for pediatric patient transports when emergency departments are on yellow alert."
A Red Alert means "The hospital has no ECG monitored beds available. These ECG monitored beds will include all in-patient critical care areas and telemetry beds."
During daylight hours, it is not unusual for many of these hospitals, including Carroll Hospital Center, to go on "Reroute." This means "An ALS/BLS unit is being held in the emergency department of a hospital due to lack of an available bed. (This does not replace Yellow Alert.)"
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It means that as cases of Covid continue to jump in the area, it is draining, and in some cases, has outstripped the capacities of local emergency departments to handle patient care.
Our EMS crews at the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department have spent countless hours with patients at local hospitals because there are no beds available. In some cases during a reroute, Carroll County units are being forced to find alternative hospitals, some as far away as Pennsylvania. This effectively can take a medic unit out of service for as long as two or more hours. Additionally, Sykesville units have been called into neighboring jurisdictions to assist with overwhelming call volumes, just as our neighbors are having to respond to assist with EMS calls in our first-due response area. The domino effect on first responder resources is like nothing seen in history.
WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO SCARE US?
We're not. This isn't about spreading fear, as one follower of our social media platforms suggested, nor is it about getting clicks.
It's about being real with you. It is about the fact that our EMS and hospital resources are being stretched thinner now than they have been at any point during the pandemic, and that is having a very real impact on public safety. Your public safety.
Be smart this holiday season. Mask up where you can, limit your exposure to other people when not necessary, and if you haven't received a vaccination or booster yet, please consider getting one as soon as possible.
Our EMS and hospital workers are fighting valiantly to keep up with the overwhelming demands of this pandemic. We are asking you: please do your part so that we can continue to do ours.
Have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.
We're here if you need us.