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Wash. firefighters help hospital staff overwhelmed by patients

Central Kitsap Chief Jay Christian: “The charge nurse said twice, ‘we’re drowning,’ ... they only had five nurses on duty and 45 patients in their waiting room”


Photo/Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue

By Leila Merrill
EMS1 Staff

SILVERDALE, Wash. — Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue firefighters were surprised to get a call sending them inside a hospital Saturday.

“The charge nurse from inside the emergency room called 911,” Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Christian told King5. “The charge nurse said twice, ‘we’re drowning,’ conveying that they only had five nurses on duty and 45 patients in their waiting room, and she was asking for help from local firefighters to come work inside of the ER to help relieve some of that pressure.”

Firefighters monitored vital signs and cleaned beds for an hour and a half at St. Michael Medical Center.

The area is part of the trend of ambulance crews having to wait at hospitals. Poulsbo Fire Chief James Gillard said the delays have put some crews out of service for more than six hours at a time.

Kitsap Peninsula has only one hospital.

St. Michael Medical Center issued a statement that says, “At St. Michael Medical Center, similar to other hospitals in the state, we’ve been experiencing high patient volumes and staffing shortages. We continue to prioritize patients with the most urgent medical conditions, even when we are experiencing capacity challenges.”


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