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Brunswick County EMS utilizing help from FEMA ambulance crews

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 3:11 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - FEMA sent two ambulances to Brunswick County this week to help with an increase in the number of emergency calls the county has seen this year.

[FEMA sends 25 advanced ambulances to NC, 8 to Cape Fear region, due to increased number of calls]

In Brunswick County, Deputy Director of Emergency Services Lyle Johnston says both ambulances have been added right into the county’s rotation, working 12-hour shifts.

“As this county grows, call volume is going to grow,” said Johnston. “There’s several factors that have fallen into the situation with call volume growth.”

Johnston attributes the recent increase in the number of calls to the COVID-19 pandemic because more people are going to the hospital, but also because more people are working from their summer homes.

“We see a lot of people that came in last summer to their vacation homes that never left,” said Johnston. “They decided to stay here, which is a good thing for them and us but it has increased the call volume.”

Brunswick County EMS says they are averaging around 66 calls per day, compared to 61 calls last year. Johnston says the county has already responded to 2,000 more calls this year compared to this time last year.

“Five years ago we ran 19,000 [calls]. This year to last year we’re up about 14 percent, or a little over 2,000 calls above our call volume at the same point in time last year,” Johnston said.

The two trucks and four paramedics FEMA sent to Brunswick County are from Portsmouth, Ohio. Johnston says the county is grateful for the help the team has provided since getting here earlier this week.

“There’s no way we can thank them to the level that we need to thank them for the help,” Johnston says. “We appreciate all the help we can get.

A spokesperson for American Medical Response, the group contracted with FEMA to send the Portsmouth crews to Brunswick County, said the following in a statement:

“The COVID-19 Delta variant continues to overwhelm hospitals and EMS agencies across the country, and Global Medical Response (GMR) has deployed additional paramedics, EMTs, and support personnel to provide much-needed help in North Carolina. Earlier this year, GMR also sent dozens of ambulances and medical and command staff personnel from its ground team – American Medical Response (AMR) – in addition to participating network providers to hard-hit communities in Mississippi, Oregon, Kentucky, Missouri and Louisiana. Our teams are proud to be able to provide care at a moment’s notice to some of the nation’s hardest-hit regions during this challenging time.”

The crews will be in Brunswick County until October 9, when the state will re-evaluate and see if the help is still necessary

Amid staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic, Brunswick County is working to bring in more EMS staff for when the assistance leaves.

“We got trucks coming; we’re looking for more people to come in and fill spots, and our folks are working as hard as they can to maintain the services the county wants.”

Johnston says his team’s top goal is to provide Brunswick County residents with the level of care they expect.

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