Drop in ambulance calls not directly related to COVID-19

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Staff report

     Britt Smith, administrative ambulance director, shared the Monticello Ambulance Service’s calls of service for 2017, 2018, 2019. Smith shared the details upon Monticello City Council member Tom Yeoman’s inquiry as to whether the service had seen a reduction in call volume since the start of COVID-19.

     Smith said they had experienced a reduction in calls this year, through the same timeframe as 2019.

     “Through April 31, 2019, we had handled a total of 159 calls for service, where through the same period of 2020 we have handled a total of 140 calls,” Smith stated in his report to the council. “Without conducting a more extensive review, I attributed the reduction of 19 calls for 2020 as COVID-19-related, when in reality the difference was due to a significant spike in calls in February 2019.”

     Smith reviewed the data from the previous three years (2017-19). He concluded that while the Ambulance Service has experienced a reduction in calls for 2020, he couldn’t say whether it’s directly related to COVID-19.

     “We will continue to evaluate our call volume as this pandemic continues to see if we see a change as a result of COVID-19,” Smith said.

     Overall, though, he said the service has seen a reduction of approximately 40 calls a year over the last three years. This has allowed the department to restructure its schedule “to be more efficient with our personnel expenses.”

     As of April 20, Smith implemented a new ambulance department schedule. A single paramedic is staffed on both the day and night shifts seven days a week. The previous structure scheduled as many as four paramedics to cover a 24-hour period.

     The paramedic is paired with an EMT or an ambulance driver.

     “We are also now covering through the use of on-call members for the 12-hour overnight shift all seven days a week,” Smith explained, “which is also an increase from the previous structure of only four days a week.”

Total calls for service

     • 2017: 563

     • 2018: 533

     • 2019: 490

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