Fla. county confused about EMS demand spike

Officials said there are multiple factors, such as an aging population, but emergency personnel are trying to pin the reason down further

By EMS1 Staff

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A county is trying to figure out the reason why EMS demand has increased so greatly in recent years.

Tampa Bay Times reported that although the population of Pinellas County has only grown by less than 1 percent annually since 2010, EMS demand increased by around 27 percent in the same time, and first responders can’t pinpoint a reason.

"If I could tell you why, I would be a genius," safety and emergency services director Jim Fogarty said.

Officials have a few ideas of why the demand has increased, such as an aging population and the opioid crisis, but “there’s no fingerprint on the knife from any one driver,” according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Chief Ian Womack.

Fogarty said he and his staff are aiming to find potential solutions through prevention classes and examining call data with a new perspective.

Officials said they responded to a senior living center more than any other location in the county last year, with 920 calls, and 261 of those calls being about falls, so a fall prevention class seemed “like the low-hanging fruit,” according to Fire Chief Dave Mixson.

"It just seemed like a no-brainer we could make a difference with this," he said.

The county has also opened a clinic next to a homeless shelter for continuous care due to the high call volume coming from the shelter.

"Somewhere along the way, we have to bring the medical care to them," Largo Fire Chief Shelby Willis said. "It has to be continuous.”

Fogarty said that while the county can benefit from creative ways of reducing calls, the real solution would be to find the root of the problem.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said.

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