Fla. county changes ambulance staffing requirements due to COVID-19
Santa Rosa County previously required a paramedic on every call
By Laura French
SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida county has changed its ambulance staffing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Santa Rosa County officials will allow its contracted EMS company, Lifeguard Ambulance Service, to run ambulances without paramedics in order to ensure ambulances are available to respond when employees are out sick or quarantining because of the virus, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
Previously, the contract between Lifeguard Ambulance Service and the county required a paramedic on every ambulance call. According to Santa Rosa County Emergency Management Director Brad Baker, ambulances in the county are usually staffed by one paramedic and one EMT. Baker said at least two EMTs will still be required on every call.
"Our contract requires them to have advanced life support units to run calls, even though the majority of our calls technically are considered basic life support calls," Baker told county commissioners at a meeting Thursday, according to the Pensacola News Journal. "Basically, we've given them a modification to run basic life support, which is allowable in Florida."
Bakers said the change will help resolve the issue of delayed response times due to not having enough paramedics to staff each ambulance. The service at one point had 11 employees out sick due to testing positive for COVID-19 or showing possible virus symptoms.
The contract modification will be in effect for 30 days but can be extended if needed after the 30 days have passed.