DENVER — Ambulance companies in Colorado and across the nation say COVID-19 has the industry at a breaking point.
“All of our colleagues in Colorado are looking for funding,” said Scott Lenn, the Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Plains Region for American Medical Response.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a struggle for private ambulance companies because of initial personal protective equipment shortages, rising costs for PPE, and at times, significant drops in call volume.
“Folks that really needed to go to the hospital — they were staying home. That created more health problems for folks and then the call volume went down by 30%,” Lenn said.
COVID-19 cases are now surging. Personal protective equipment is more available than it was earlier this year but also more expensive.
As such, ambulance companies are struggling to keep up with the cost.
“Every call, our crews are in N95’s, having to gown up, mask up, glove up. When you do that 10-15 times a day, it's really increasing the costs,” Lenn said.
Lenn says the private ambulance industry saw less than 1% of CARES Act funding early in the pandemic. The special session of the Colorado legislature ended this week with no additional help for private ambulance companies.
“To my knowledge, there were no bills related to EMS funding,” he said.
Paramedics are working around the clock as we face the toughest months of the pandemic, including serving rural areas that may not have hospitals nearby.
Some private ambulance companies are facing tough financial decisions.
“If they don’t get the needed help, they could be out of business. So when you call 911 in those areas, somebody might not be able to respond,” Lenn said.