Flu epidemic wages toll on EMSA

Thursday, February 28th 2008, 8:04 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

The flu is taking a toll on the very people we turn to when we're sick. The Emergency Medical Services Authority or EMSA says its paramedics are sick with the flu.

This news comes at a time when EMSA's calls are up 20% because of the recent flu epidemic.

EMSA Paramedic Parker Martin said EMSA is making adjustments to keep everything under control.

"Everyone's sick and everybody needs our help, and that's what we're here for and sometimes we need to help ourselves too," Martin said.

Every day, two or three EMSA paramedics call in sick because of the flu or a stomach virus.

EMSA's relying on part timers to work more shifts and full timers to work overtime. EMSA Field Operations Supervisor John Graham said EMSA's fully staffed and ready to go.

"We're filling their spots; we're still responding quickly to people and treating them and giving them the best medicine we can," Graham said.

The state health department's tracking the flu epidemic. It's been widespread for four weeks now.

"We still are pretty much at the peak of the activity so it may be several weeks before we start to see a significant downtrend of this activity," said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Kristy Bradley.

Paramedics are extra vigilant, constantly cleaning the trucks, wearing gloves, and washing their hands.  They can't wait for flu season to end.

The State Health Department says the flu season can last until April or May.