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COVID: 911 Calls For Ambulances Has CoCo County Fire Crews, Emergency Resources Stretched Thin

MARTINEZ (KPIX) -- The Omicron surge of sick patients has not only put stress on Contra Costa County hospitals, it's also impacting ambulances and fire crews in the county.

Calls for paramedics keep pouring into the 911 dispatch center. Ambulances at an alarming rate are responding to those with COVID-like symptoms and resources have been stretched thin.

"We have had to rely on a couple of times in the last few weeks is dispatching one of our paramedics on a fire engine, that's not uncommon to do that," says Steve Hill, a spokesperson with the Contra Costa County Fire Department.

It's not just the number of calls, but in some cases patients are sitting in ambulances as they wait to be admitted into emergency rooms, tying up vital resources.

In Contra Costa County, there are 61 COVID patients in ICU as of Monday, down from the peak it hit last week. ConFire has had to reach out to outside agencies for help.

"We have contracted with private ambulance companies to provide additional ambulances in the fleet during this time of additional stress on the system," says Hill.

Dispatchers have been key in determining the severity of each case over the phone.

Even with the stress on the system, ConFire assures the public every call will be answered with the appropriate resources. The agency encourages the public though to make the right call, whether its to their primary care physician, to urgent care or 911.

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