Paramedics feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

“We are adjusting to the changes that are out there, we are trying to adapt to everything going on in the community”
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:01 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Magic Valley Paramedics have seen a massive increase in call volumes since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’ve seen like a 30-40% increase in overall volume just in the last 12 months, comparing last year to this year, which is a lot,” said James Rhom of Magic Valley Paramedics. “We’re seeing a 300% increase in our respiratory complaint volume.”

Serving a population over 120,000 is already a large task for Rohm’s response team. Adding a pandemic in an area with dismal vaccination rates has forced his team to get creative.

“We have a specialty team, it’s a very small specialty team, that initially was put in place to help out with making connections in the community and helping out with some of the public health support,” Rhom said. “We have changed, or adapted, that team to the COVID response.”

This team, called the Community Health EMS, helps keep people who have mild symptoms out of the hospital by responding to their house.

In less densely populated areas, like Buhl, the impacts of the pandemic haven’t been as severe. Buhl Fire Chief Andrew Stevens tells KMVT his team is still working hard to keep up with a growing population.

“We’ve been getting busier and busier over the years anyway, and we’re still keeping right up,” Stevens said. “Nothing has really changed for us, so we’re doing just fine.”

Stevens also told KMVT that, at times, they receive calls that might not need to go through emergency services and urges people to weigh their options.

“You can call your doctor and get their advice on what they think you should do,” said Stevens.

Overall, both rural and urban EMS teams are clear about one thing.

“We are still here for you,” Rhom said. “We are adjusting to the changes that are out there, we are trying to adapt to everything going on in the community.”

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