KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- American Medical Response (AMR) Ambulance Turnaround Times report is showing wait times for ambulance crews at area hospitals continue to grow.
Wait times occur when an ambulance crew has to wait before hospitals begin caring for patients.
AMR crews waited for an hour or more 519 times in December compared to 488 times in November and 425 times in October. In December 2017, hour-long waits totaled 253 times.
Below is the 2018 month-by-month breakdown of AMR's ambulance wait-times for more than an hour:
For the first eight days of January 2019, AMR crews have waited 190 times for an hour or more..
With the closure of Physicians Regional, the old St. Mary's, wait times are getting longer at already crowded hospitals.
"A lot of people have the mindset they have an ambulance, they'll get in quicker and that's not the case," said Ronald Smiddy, who is a paramedic with Anderson County.
Paramedic Ronald Smiddy spent hours waiting this week at a Knoxville emergency room.
"They were so busy," said Smiddy. There's probably 70 to 80 beds at UT ER and we waited there for 2 hours just for the bed. They're just that busy."
Smiddy has been a paramedic for about 8 years for Anderson County. He said long waits don't only affect him.
"It takes a toll on the whole service because if i'm tied up for 2 hours on one call, the other trucks have to pick that slack up to maintain our county," said Smiddy.
The director of Anderson County EMS, Nathan Sweet, said to think twice before calling 911, if it's not a serious emergency.
Knox County AMR said crews have been spending about 3 to 9 hours waiting in emergency rooms.