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Los Angeles ambulance ride-along shows the pandemic's grueling toll on EMTs

January 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 50%. 2 min read.

EMT Sadi Pope takes pride in her job, but the recent Covid-19 surge in Los Angeles County has made for some grueling 10-hour shifts.

(CNN)EMT Sadi Pope takes pride in her job, but the recent Covid-19 surge in Los Angeles County has made for some grueling 10-hour shifts.

The mother of three and former stay-at-home mom has been running an ambulance for the last six months, but the call volume has grown so much in this latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic that "we're running and running" all day now, she said.

To understand how Los Angeles' crushing Covid-19 surge has impacted first-responders, CNN spent a day with EMTs and at the emergency communication hub for Care Ambulance, the largest emergency ambulance service in Southern California.

Over nearly eight hours, the group of hard-working yet harried workers tried to handle a large volume of calls and brought sick patients to hospitals so full that the patients were left waiting for hours for an available bed.

The surge is so severe that ambulance crews in Los Angeles County have been told not to take patients who have little chance of survival.

Pope's partner on the job, Kyle Dojillo, has been an EMT for about a year, and he said the surge recently has been notable.

Across LA, beds in the intensive care unit are hard to find, and some EMTs say they've waited outside hospitals with patients for six to eight hours.

During CNN's time with EMTs on Thursday, a new 911 call came in for a Covid 19-positive patient.

Eight Care ambulances were already standing by with other patients, said ambulance supervisor Carolyn Carraway.

The patient had to wait more than three hours before getting a hospital bed, Care Ambulance later told CNN.

Transporting so many Covid-19-positive patients of course puts their own health at risk as well.

Hours into her shift, Pope had transported another patient with Covid-19, she later told CNN.

"I wasn't expecting anything like this, but yeah (disinfecting is) a big deal because I'm with these patients all day, and then I go home to my kids," she said, "so I'm just definitely trying to be aware of the people around me and be smart about what I'm doing. "

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