Working 17 hours without a break, accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel… “Public medical care has reached its limits” – Emergency medical services in despair | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Working 17 hours without a break, accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel… “Public medical care has reached its limits” – Emergency medical services in despair

Both the number of dispatches and the number of hours of activity are dramatically increasing!

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An ambulance wrecked on a national highway in Akishima City at the end of last year. It crashed into a median strip fence and its front part was completely broken

It was around 2 am. I thought it was noisy outside and opened the window of my house to see an ambulance plowing into the median strip. A large number of police officers and paramedics were rushing to deal with the situation, which lasted until after 6:00 a.m., I think. I am used to seeing many speeding cars in this area, but this is the first time I have witnessed an ambulance rollover,” said a resident near the scene.

The accident that wrecked the ambulance occurred in the early morning of December 29, 2011. On its way home after transporting a patient, the ambulance hit the median strip on a national highway in Akishima City, Tokyo. The vehicle crashed through a steel fence, shattering the windows and slightly injuring three members of the team. The driver, a trooper in his 50s, was said to have fallen asleep at the wheel. It is known that the crew had been working without a break for 17 hours.

The Tokyo Fire Department dispatched 872,101 ambulance calls during the past year, the highest number ever. The daily operating time per EMS team exceeded 15 hours and 30 minutes, approximately 4 hours more than the previous year. Yokohama City also recorded a record number of dispatches. Almost every fire department in Japan has seen an across-the-board increase in the number of dispatches,” said a reporter from the society department of a national newspaper.

We can’t even take a break or have a meal.

Emergency crews respond to the scene of a new Corona cluster outbreak. In Chiba City, the number of ambulances available for dispatch temporarily dropped to zero.

The emergency medical service is in desperate straits.

The number of requests for ambulance transports is increasing, and hospitals often refuse to accept patients because there are no available beds. This increases the amount of time required for transport. Depending on the day, there is not enough time to take a break or have a meal,” said a Tokyo Fire Department paramedic.

The fire department alone is unable to cope with the situation, and requests for transport are pouring in from private emergency service providers. One of the factors affecting this situation is the new type of coronavirus. Hirotaka Usui, president of Star Transportation, which provides transportation services mainly in Gunma Prefecture, said, “The Gunma Prefectural Medical Coordination Headquarters has requested us to provide transportation for the new strain of coronavirus.

We are constantly receiving requests from the Gunma Prefectural Medical Coordination Headquarters to transport people infected with coronavirus. Since the beginning of this year, we have transported 10 cases a day at the most, and our four vehicles are running at full capacity. There are many municipalities where firefighters alone transport patients, but public emergency transport is probably at its limit. Accidents like the one in Akishima City could happen anywhere at any time.

It remains to be seen whether the fire department will be able to keep up with the ever-increasing number of emergency transports.

The fire department is working to increase the number of ambulance crews and to organize emergency teams, but due to the increase in the number of emergency calls, the emergency transport system is under pressure. (Tokyo Fire Department Public Relations Division)

Dr. Hiroshi Honda, a physician and vice president of the NPO “Healthcare System Study Group,” says that awareness of coronas is important.

There is a movement among the public to take off their masks. However, the situation in the medical field has not changed, with the number of daily deaths reaching a record high and hospital beds tight. It is important to remain vigilant against new coronas.

We should not neglect measures against coronas and refrain from calling 119 easily. A little effort can improve the emergency medical care scene.

Local governments are inundated with requests to transport patients to private emergency medical service providers. The photo shows the activities of “Star Transportation,” based in Gunma Prefecture.

From the February 10, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photo Courtesy of Jiji Press

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