La. EMS seeks ways to ease strain of COVID-19 surge on providers

To free up more providers, some parishes will begin prioritizing calls and initially dispatch an EMT, sending a paramedic only if needed


By Rachel Engel

BATON ROUGE, La. — EMS officials are working to ease the burden on providers as Baton Rouge-area hospitals fill up and offloading wait times increase.

To free up more providers, some parishes will begin prioritizing calls and only send a paramedic if needed, WBRZ reported. Otherwise, an EMT will initially respond.  

The East Baton Rouge city council approved firefighters to transport patients in an ambulance without waiting for an EMS unit, and are considering raising recruitment rates to alleviate the provider shortage.
The East Baton Rouge city council approved firefighters to transport patients in an ambulance without waiting for an EMS unit, and are considering raising recruitment rates to alleviate the provider shortage. (Photo/East Baton Rouge EMS)

“We’re trying to work with parish officials and elected officials to try to slow the flow of patients going to the emergency departments right now,” said Porter Taylor, director of operations with Acadian Ambulance Service. “We want to be able to get to the people quicker, calm them down, hopefully make them understand and see if we can’t help them that way.”

Many 911 calls are patients calling about mild-to-moderate cold or flu symptoms, Taylor said, which can be cared for by an EMT.  

“The nausea, the vomiting, the fever, maybe feeling tired … and of course, the basic EMT will get there and differentiate if it’s COVID or something respiratory or cardiac-wise,” he said. “When in doubt, the paramedic is coming after.”

The East Baton Rouge city council approved firefighters to transport patients in an ambulance without waiting for an EMS unit, and are considering raising recruitment rates to alleviate the provider shortage.

“We always try to and figure out what we can do to be as responsive as we can with the resources that we have,” said Darryl Gissel, chief administrate officer for the East Baston Rouge mayor-president’s office.

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