First responders welcome ‘ambulance strike teams’


KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Ambulance strike teams arrived in the Kansas City metro Friday to provide long-haul patient transfers outside of the area to keep Kansas City area ambulance crews in the metro.

“All of the services in this region, we are all suffering equally,” EMS Assistant Division Chief Kansas City Missouri Fire Department EMS Assistant Division Chief Nathan Hopper said.

According to Hopper on one hand, first responders appreciate the help because they need it.

On the other hand, they are troubled that the situation in the Kansas City region has reached a point where lifesaving resources are being stretched thin.

“That also indicates we have sort of crossed into an area that we’ve never had to deal with before,” Hopper said.

Since the pandemic began, ambulance crews in the metro have balanced answering calls for service and transporting patients to outlying facilities which is a strain on resources especially during summer months.

“We see a huge increase in in gun violence. We see a huge increase in drug overdoses. Then it’s all part and parcel,” Hopper said. “It’s not just a COVID epidemic, it’s a social epidemic. These are all things that kind of feed into this storm that’s basically what we’re all having to deal with.”

The local hospitals they transport patients to are often considered at high volume.

“Now it’s every day, all the time, day and night and that’s the part that’s concerning,” Hopper said. “We don’t have operating rooms in some cases to put people in. We don’t have ICU beds to put people in and so the spillover from the hospital onto the ambulance service is we have to take sick patients much further than we would like to.”

Thirty ambulances and more than 60 trained personnel arrived in five Missouri regions Friday including the Kansas City region. The pandemic has tested crews who are experienced in responding to tragic circumstances.

“For a lot of people, it’s soul crushing,” Hopper said. “It’s very difficult and what makes it so painful is now today knowing that so many of the cases that we see are preventable.”

He says the last year and a half has been trying for his coworkers.

“So many of our employees suffered. So many of our employees got COVID,” Hopper said. “Some of them suffered very dearly and some of them died from it and so we all live through this.”

That’s why first responders are asking for help from their communities.

“It is something that everyone in society has to band together to do,” Hopper said. “The message is take the precautions that are necessary, get vaccinated if you’re eligible because it helps. It doesn’t just help us, it helps all the people that suffer from all of the medical conditions that happen every day.”

Six ambulances will be shared to help different agencies in the Kansas City area including in Kansas City, Independence and the areas AMR ground ambulances serve in the metro through Sept. 5th.

According to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Ambulance strike teams will initially be positioned in Regions A (Kansas City area), B (northeast Missouri), D (southwest Missouri), G (south-central Missouri), and H (northwest Missouri) and have the ability to move as needed.

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