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Paramedics In Emergency Rooms, Long Hospital Transfers – How Ambulances Are Meeting COVID-19 Surge

Edgar Escobedo is the Director of Field Operations with American Ambulance, which contracts with hospitals in Fresno and Kings Counties.

With the latest COVID-19 surge, we know that hospitals are in crisis: Patients are being cared for in hallways and conference rooms, nurses and doctors are being forced to take care of larger patient loads than usual, and field hospitals are being opened to take care of those who aren’t in need of critical care.

But what does this all mean for ambulances that are delivering patients to overflowing emergency departments and transferring patients between intensive care units full to capacity? Edgar Escobedo, director of Field Operations with paramedic contractor American Ambulance, says in response to the first stay-at-home order in March, there were so few 9-1-1 calls that the company instituted a hiring freeze. But everything changed when cases first surged over the summer.


In this interview, Escobedo tells FM89 health reporter Kerry Klein about the long wait times paramedics face when delivering patients to emergency departments and the far distances they must travel to transfer patients between hospitals – as well as the creative solutions they’ve developed that make him confident that paramedics will continue to meet the pandemic’s ongoing challenges.


Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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