‘The Perfect Storm’ | Knoxville Fire Department activates emergency operation center due to ambulance shortages
Officials told WVLT News this is the first time the center has been opened when it was not in a severe weather situation.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knoxville Fire Department told WVLT News they have activated its emergency operation center, according to spokesperson Mark Wilbanks.
Wilbanks told WVLT News this is the first time the center has been opened when it was not in a severe weather situation. He credits a lack of ambulance services and overcrowded hospitals as reasons for opening the center.
AMR told WVLT News all 14 ambulances were in use at once, which is considered level zero.
Tuesday was the “perfect storm,” according to AMR’s Regional Director Joshua Spencer. In the afternoon, AMR personnel received a higher than normal demand for AMR services that succeeded available resources.
Simply put, there were more calls than ambulances available. “There were multiple times throughout the day there were no ambulances available,” Spencer said.
One of the issues was how long ambulances were waiting to drop off a patient at a hospital before heading to another patient, according to Spencer.
Spencer said the process should take less than 30 minutes. However, on Tuesday, some ambulances were waiting for at least an hour and a half.
“Not that that causes the problem, it just contributes to the problem,” Spencer said.
Staffing issues at the hospital typically cause the issue of long wait times in hospitals, according to Spencer.
AMR released a statement as well.
Within the peak hours, Spencer said if people were waiting for ambulances then the dispatcher would routinely call the person back and try to deliver any assistance they could.
Spencer also offered a disclaimer that often during these calls law enforcement who were already on the scene would provide the most immediate care.
As of 6:30 p.m., there were no calls holding. “The situation is under control at this time,” Spencer said.
Wilbanks said the EOC closed around 7:30 p.m. after the call volume dropped.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ office forwarded a statement.
We are working to learn more information at this time.
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