Ongoing coronavirus pandemic putting stress on Tuscaloosa-area ambulance services

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 8:44 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Administrators with Northstar Paramedic Services wish they had enough people available to drive all the ambulances parked in its parking lot.

“This has been an 18-month catastrophic event,” according to Edgar Calloway, the Operations Director for Northstar. He said COVID-19 is taking a toll on this branch of emergency medical services.

Calloway explained some of his paramedics are not only working 80-hour weeks.

“You basically get in the back of a tin can with a person whose COVID positive. What’s separating you from the virus is a person whose COVID positive. What’s separating you from the virus a paper mask,” he described.

People are leaving the profession over concerns they could spread coronavirus to their family. Calloway is down 10 paramedics now. He says that’s not unusual this time of year. He’d like to have 30 more paramedics to keep pace with this latest COVID-19 surge.

“This Delta variant, it’s impacting younger people. So, you’re kind of getting into people who work the ambulances for us every day,” Calloway continued.

Calloway says it’s also taking longer to get patients admitted into hospitals because of COVID-19 Northstar is getting help from Tuscaloosa and Northport Fire Rescue.

Those departments have placed personnel at hospitals to help with off loading patients. According to Calloway, that helps Northstar paramedics respond to patients who need more routine medical care.

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