The medical director of the Emergency Medical Services Authority, or EMSA, said Wednesday that while the ambulance service has experienced some additional demand, it remains far from being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Yes, we are in unusual times," said Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe during a virtual meeting of the authority's board of trustees, "but the actual case load, case burden, number of incidents related to COVID-19 certainly comes nowhere close to the majority of patients that we take care of on a day-in, day-out basis."
Goodloe pegs the percentage of COVID-related cases as making up around somewhere between 10% and 15% of total patient volume.
"When people say, 'oh my gosh, this pandemic is horrible, it must be crippling the EMS system's ability to operate, it must be crippling hospitals' -- there certainly is some additional demand due to it, but if you want to know who is in the back of our ambulances, and who is in emergency department exam rooms, and who is upstairs at the hospital, it is patients with strokes, and [heart attacks], and motor vehicle crashes with serious trauma," Goodloe said, going on to list additional non-COVID-related medical emergencies.
Goodloe said that, as with other relatively "good" news during the pandemic, that equilibrium has the potential to change.
Goodloe also said EMSA personnel have managed to keep infection levels among staff low -- out of more than 4,000 credentialed staff working with patients, only 89 are known to have tested positive over the course of the pandemic so far, he said.
"You would be hard-pressed to convince me that these 4,000+ personnel are not being careful, that they are not wearing PPE, that they are not taking this seriously. I think they are," Goodloe said. "And I think that's very, very important, not just for our system, but also for our communities that rely on this system.
"They can continue to have a great deal of trust that we are taking this dynamic with the seriousness that we are."