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EMTs Enduring Long Wait Times With Patients Outside Hospitals During Pandemic

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- EMTs say they are exhausted and scared as the pandemic continues on, putting more people in the hospital.

"It's never been like this in the 12 years I've been working in EMS," said EMT Jimmy Webb.

Webb picked up a patient in Garden Grove on Monday night as his fellow EMT jumped in the back of the ambulance while Webb drove to Los Alamitos Medical Center, prepared for a long wait outside.

"We are waiting two to four hours minimum to a hospital and now we are having to drive even further... then wait another three hours," Webb said.

Some patients get treated at emergency centers set up in tents outside the hospital because space is so limited inside due to an influx of coronavirus patients.

CARE Ambulance in Orange runs almost 300 ambulances across the Southland and sometimes has to help out other agencies that are also seeing a spike in emergency calls.

"The amount of 911 calls we receive and send our ambulances to is just out of control," Webb said.

For the first time, officials are relying on a dashboard in the vehicle showing how long wait times will be at O.C. hospitals.

At Kaiser of Baldwin Park on Monday night, there was a six-hour wait for the ambulance to drop off a patient.

Officials do stress that patients are still receiving the necessary care while they wait outside hospitals.

"If this is the peak and the next couple of weeks we are gonna get more, I think we are gonna be in some trouble," said critical care nurse Errol Barrientos.

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