COVID-19 taking toll on Los Angeles EMTs

COVID ambulances are busier than ever in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CNN) – Los Angeles County has reported an overwhelming increase in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths since November.

It’s so serious that the county supervisor has called it a “human disaster.” Health officials said a person is dying from COVID-19 every eight minutes in the county.

In addition to the patients, the recent COVID-19 surge in that region has taken a toll on emergency medical technicians.

A grueling 10-hour shift in an ambulance was recently in store for EMT Sadi Pope.

“It’s definitely shifted in the last month,” she said. “Just with the call volumes … constantly, just, we’re running and running.”

Pope, a mother of three and former stay-at-home mom, has been doing this the last six months. It’s a job she loves, but it’s taking a toll on her.

“A few months ago, there’d be times where we’d sit for a couple of hours just waiting for a call in our area, but now we’re lucky if we sit for a half-an-hour,” she said.

Her partner Kyle Dojillo has been an EMT for about a year.

“Every time I come back to work, every week, it just gets worse and worse,” he said.

Daily deaths in the county are at times exceeding all the homicides in the city of Los Angeles in 2019 combined.

ICU beds are extremely hard to find. Some EMTs said they’ve waited outside hospitals with patients for six to eight hours.

“A lot of times I’m just exhausted, and I go straight home, eat dinner and go to bed,” EMT Matt Herman said. “So, it’s doing everything I can to get my rest, eat as much as I can and then try to stay healthy so I can keep going.”

Ambulance supervisor Carolyn Carraway has been helping her teams endure the crushing hospital waits.

“I’m constantly talking to them, you know, checking in on them, seeing how they’re doing,” she said. “My truck is full of snacks and Gatorades just to, to help, you know, get them through the day.”

California added nearly 50,000 new cases on Sunday alone. That brings the total number of cases in the state since the pandemic began to more than 2.6 million.

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