INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 continues to impact the health care system in Central Indiana.
Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services is the largest transport service in the state. IEMS Chief Dan O'Donnell said call volumes are higher than they’ve ever been at more than 400 calls per day. The volume was around 300 a day before the pandemic.
"So, we are obviously going to set a record and that goes for all of Marion County,” O'Donnell said.
Emergency medical technicians with the service are slammed, responding to one call after another with hardly any time to rest.
"It’s been everything, but a lot more of it," O'Donnell said. "We thought 2020 was going to be our surge and that didn’t come into fruition. What we are seeing in 2021, is our volumes are up tremendously. Higher than they’ve ever been in our organization."
O’Donnell said they’re seeing a combination of COVID-19 patients, trauma and more. All of the long hours and nonstop transports has taken a toll on providers.
"It has been a strain on our folks," he said. "They are just going to the next call everyday and trying to decompress when they can."
O’Donnell says he appreciates his team risking their lives every day to help others.
"IEMS providers are the heroes right now," O'Donnell said. "They are the frontest of the front line going in and handling this day-to-day without even thinking what’s in it for me."
He doesn’t want their efforts to be forgotten by the community.
"The difficult thing has been, in 2020, (the community) was flying planes overhead for us. They were getting free coffees, free lunches and here we are now, they are even more stressed and what we are looking for is the support from our community. We will always answer the call. Recognize that please. A simple thank you goes a long way to the ambulance providers," O'Donnell said.
O’Donnell said IEMS needs more employees, but they are projected to be almost fully staffed by end of 2021.
The good news is diversions have slowed down, according to the Indiana Hospital Association, and O’Donnell said ambulances are not tied up at hospitals.