SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More businesses are opening and restrictions are fading, but that doesn’t mean the COVID-19 pandemic is over. In fact, local emergency medical services are preparing for a surge in cases. Sioux Falls ambulance provider Patient Care EMS, along with local hospitals, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, and Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority are trying to stay a few steps ahead.
When you see an ambulance with its lights and sirens on, you know someone is on the way to the hospital. Overall, calls for ambulances have stayed the same through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, EMS Division Chief for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Mark Bukovich, says calls for people with respiratory problems have gone up.
“We’re attributing the increase to COVID-19, COVID-19 symptoms,” Bukovich said.
If that continues to increase, local EMS workers want to be ready. Four more ambulances will be in Sioux Falls to prepare for a COVID surge.
“You saw the hospitals expanding the ability to handle more patients, more beds. EMS is no different. We need a good plan to be able to transport more patients,” Bukovich said.
Patient Care EMS has already added two more to its fleet, totaling 12 ambulances in the city. In addition to that, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue will lease two other ambulances from the company for $1 per month.
“They’d be leased for the pandemic planning. Once we feel like the threat is gone, then those ambulances are returned to PC EMS,” Bukovich said.
Part of this agreement allows the departments involved to share equipment and staff in case of shortages. Bukovich says the goal is to make sure patients have the best care when they go to the hospital.
“That’s why we’re adding these extra capacities and extra resources to the system to be able to do that as much as we possibly can to try to keep things as normal as possible,” Bukovich said.
EMS groups, including Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, will bring this to the City Council’s informational meeting on Tuesday. Fire Chief Brad Goodroad says this is already a done deal, but councilors will be able to ask questions about it. Patient Care EMS did not answer our request for an interview.