CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – From ambulance bays to emergency departments, staffing shortages are making weary medical professionals even more exhausted.
The West Virginia National Guard is making a concentrated effort to get members with medical backgrounds re-certified and on the front lines.
“It’s a whole new dynamic, a whole new world we’re operating in a way,” said Clayton Young, the Chief of Operations at the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority.
“We have had an extreme increase in call volume and we are seeing those that are potentially covid-positive, covid-like symptoms, flu symptoms, we’re seeing a lot of those individuals like that at a significant increase,” says Monica Mason, the Executive Director at KCEAA.
With the most recent surge in cases, EMS workers are now transporting a lot of sick and covid-positive patients and Young says it is the new normal: “Dealing with the pandemic is our day to day thing anymore it seems to be, where it used to be just dealing with our auto accidents our structure fires, heart attacks, strokes, diabetic calls and things like that.”
And staffing has been a problem, not only in West Virginia but across the county. “It’s always been a problem. It’s a nationwide problem with EMS. The average career for an EMS professional […] is 7 years actually is the national average,” says Young.
“Our workers have given it all. All 673 days of covid they’ve been in PPE in hot temperatures, obviously, now we’re in more cold temperatures but they’ve had those back-to-back covid calls that they’ve had to run. And extra sanitation so we can continue to keep our crews safe, our community and patients. So our workers continue to give it their all and it is very much appreciated,” added Mason.
Mason says that if you are feeling sick, take advantage of the testing clinics near you and follow additional guidance from your doctor.