EMS ‘Deserts': Multiple Factors Upping Arrival Times in Conn.

Connecticut ambulance services are having to increase response times and reduce availability in some parts of the state.

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Rural residents are being hit hard by what the Connecticut Association of Paramedics and EMTs, or CAPE, has called “EMS Deserts,” areas with almost no ambulance coverage.

According to CAPE, in a presentation last week to the state’s public health legislature, ambulance services have had to reduce their availability in some parts of the state, leading to slower response times in rural areas.

In an NBC Connecticut Investigates report this year, ambulance response times doubled from eight minutes in 2018 to 16 minutes in 2020. Medical experts said this was because of COVID-19 fatigue, non-competitive wages and understaffed teams.

CAPE also found ambulance pay rates were increasing due to hospitals consolidating with each other and buying out more ambulance providers. 

“They have deeper pockets in some of the organizations and they are taking them out of the streets and putting them into other health care locations,” said Greg Allard, the president of the Association of CT Ambulance Providers.

The Connecticut Hospital Association said that its hospitals suffered from staff shortages during the pandemic. However, they said they remain committed to working toward a sustainable EMS system.

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