Paramedics wait hours to release patients to hospitals

“We’ve had to wait up to six or seven hours with one patient.”

Ambulance wait times increasing

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms.

“As of lately we have been tied up in the hospital in what we called wall times,” said Kyle McDonnell with Regional Paramedical Services.

He said paramedics have been tied up in hospitals when they should be back in the community to help others in need.

“We’ve had to wait up to six or seven hours with one patient,” he explained.

Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think.
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think. (Source: WBRC)
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think.
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think. (Source: WBRC)

He said this is one of their extreme cases, but on average their wait time has been two hours, when he said it should only be 15 minutes .

“So, the problem is when you have a two and three ambulances that are tied up in the emergency room they are not available for calls in their area. We cover mostly rural areas. So, they are already a long way from Birmingham. There’s only a few resources that we have available in those small areas and when they come to Birmingham to get tied up in the hospital and then they are not available back home where they are needed,” he continued.

Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think.
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think. (Source: WBRC)
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think.
Ambulances are spending more time outside of the hospital emergency rooms, but its not for the reasons you might think. (Source: WBRC)

McDonell said a part of the problem, and possibly the easiest fix, is to cut down on the number of people who show up to emergency rooms with non-emergencies.

“There’s a lot of those calls that go on every day and they don’t really need us, but a lot of people now are using that as a primary care physician. So, that’s clogging the ER’S up, that’s clogging the hospital floors up, and when the hospital floors are clogged up that just boils over to us and we get backed up,” he explained.

"We've carried two patients in the last year who have bad breath. There will never be a need for an ambulance or any emergency room for bad breath," McDonnell continued.

He said they have been in talks with hospital CEOs.

“They are working with us to help us get these ambulances back out in the community where they belong and not sitting in Birmingham but the problem still exists,” said McDonnell

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