DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — Emergency services throughout metro Atlanta are being stretched thin and making it harder to respond to those who need help right away.
Douglas County reports that its ambulances are having to wait at area hospitals for at least 30 minutes more than 500 times in both May and June. They report two reasons are behind this and are asking for people's help to improve public safety.
Responding to emergencies is where Douglas County EMT and firefighter Jordan Reid wants to be.
“We do love to be out there serving the community. It is frustrating to be stuck at the hospital and stuck not being able to serve the emergency calls that are coming in," Reid said.
Douglas County ambulances have responded this week to a variety of non-emergency calls.
“We had a young lady who was a newer parent whose baby would not go to sleep at about 3 o’clock in the morning, and she just couldn’t put the baby down," Reid said. "She didn’t know what to do, so she called the ambulance.”
“We’ve had everything from a sunburn to I can’t sleep to a UTI," Douglas County EMS Chief Stacie Farmer said.
Farmer said the problem isn't just responding to those non-emergency calls but also ambulances waiting at hospitals due to high call volumes.
“To turn that patient over is sometimes taking one, two, three hours," Farmer said. "A couple of days ago, [it took] five hours. The highest we’ve had is eight.”
Douglas County posted a public service announcement this week asking people only to call 911 for emergencies.
"We’re asking them to evaluate whether this is a true emergency or if there are avenues that are more appropriate," Farmer said.
Those avenues include telemedicine and urgent care, Farmer explained.
“If you have a situation that’s non-emergency that you’re using an ambulance for, that ambulance is not available for the other citizens in Douglas County," Reid said.
This isn’t just a problem in Douglas County. It’s a regional problem. DeKalb and Cobb counties said they're experiencing similar issues. Fire and rescue services in Clayton and Gwinnett counties said they'd get back to us, but we didn't get information on if they're seeing these problems by the time this story aired.