Ambulance response wait times increasing in Chatham Co.

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Ambulance response times are high in Chatham County. It’s an issue that presented itself during the pandemic and has gotten worse.

Officials at Chatham Emergency Services say July was the second worst month for response times in the past year.

Doctors say this year they’ve seen the most people coming to the ER ever. The problem is Chief Operating Officer of Chatham Emergency Services says people are calling for non-emergency issues. It’s hindering them from making it to people who really need to go the emergency room at a decent time.

“There where six to eight ambulances at one hospital that were sitting there waiting for a room meanwhile the 911 calls keep coming.”

It’s supposed to take about 20 minutes to drop off a patient, Phil Koster with Chatham Emrgency Services says it’s been taking hours.

He says it’s getting worse as people are calling for reasons that aren’t an emergency.

“Minor skin issues, gout, arthritis flare ups, things that they could go to their primary care physicians for or to an urgent care, their calling an ambulance,” Chief Operating Officer of Chatham Emergency Services Phil Koster said.

He believes some call an ambulance to get to the front of the line, but he says that’s not how it works.

Memorial Health Dr. John Sy says some health conditions that warrant a 911 call are anything trauma related, life threatening, a high fever, and abdominal pain.

“Cardiac related stuff, respiratory stuff, things that are difficult. If people are having difficulty breathing. If people are having chest pain,” Emergency Room Director Dr. John Sy said.

Dr. Sy says Memorial has experienced their highest amount of people coming to the ER in about 50 years in 2022.

“We’ve been having a very busy year. I think that’s the biggest cause of it. It’s just that the volume of the patients that we have coming in. Coming out of the pandemic, we’re still trying to work on our processes and get hired up to full staff.”

Despite the delayed times, Koster says Chatham Emergency Services said there’s room for error if they just stop taking people with minor issues to the hospital.

“There’s always that chance were somebody calls for some minor issue and there is actually something going on that requires immediate attention. We’re not in a position where we stop.”

He says while they haven’t been authorized to stop bringing people with minor conditions to the hospital but that idea is not off the table.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.