COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In Central Ohio, hospitals that are near capacity will sometimes divert ambulances carrying patients with non-life-threatening injuries to other hospitals, to keep them from being overrun.
And when three or more ERs reach capacity, Columbus’ hospitals enact something called the Emergency Patient Transport Plan.
“So all EMS and hospitals agree to work together, and that hospital has pre-identified how many patients they’ll take, kind of in succession,” said Sherri Kovach, president of the Central Ohio Trauma System.
President Kovach said medics will coordinate with dispatchers to send patients in stable condition to different hospitals until overcrowding is reduced.
Over the past few years, she said the Emergency Patient Transport Plan has been activated less than 10 times a year.
Since May 4th of this year, they’ve implemented the plan 26 times.
“We just came out of the plan this morning, so it’s been very busy,” said Kovach.
The amount of time the plan has been active exceeded 100 hours in June and July and reached over 250 hours in August.
Columbus Division of Fire said despite the strain put on paramedics, their local firefighters are prepared to assist if necessary.
“All our fire engines, have all the drugs, heart monitors, and trained people so that the public is not going to see a slowdown in the delivery of EMS,” said Battalion Chief Steve Martin, public information officer for Columbus Division of Fire.
Kovach said it’s an issue that could overwhelm EMS services if it’s not addressed sooner, rather than later. The first step she said, is getting vaccinated.
“We have a large volume of non-COVID patients. That we didn’t have back in December, so we have busier volume than normal and then add to that the COVID. So the biggest thing, the only way we’re going to get out of this is vaccines,” said Kovach.