Calls for medics increase in the Twin Cities

11:00 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Answering the call is what paramedics do, but in the Twin Cities and beyond, those calls are coming in just about as fast as they can take them.

"Paramedic is a tough job, the average span is 7-10 years," said Jeff Groess, operations manager at HealthEast Ambulance and Transport Services.

Rarely is there downtime for the folks at HealthEast in St. Paul or any medic for that matter.

In 2012, HealthEast reports a 10-percent increase in calls from the previous year.

"I would say that is statistically significant, that's 1,000 extra calls a year for us," said Groess.

Paramedics for Allina Health experience similar numbers, as did Hennepin County Medical Center reporting a 9-percent increase for medical calls.

Hennepin EMS hired 24 paramedics in 2012 and look to hire several more in 2013. Same goes for most places.

"For the average paramedic, they worked a lot harder than they normally do," said Robert Ball, paramedic and Public Information Officer for Hennepin EMS.

Ball said some months; paramedics at Hennepin County Medical Center experienced a 15-percent increase.

"It's a nationwide issue that is affecting metropolitan areas across the United States," he said.

No one seems to know the exact reason for the increase, but experts believe it most likely has to do with a number of things, an aging population, the flu outbreak in the recent months, and a country dealing with mental illness to name a few.

"Behavioral and mental health calls have significantly increased over the past handful of years," said Groess. "The problem is there are no beds for these patients to go."

The increased demand has HealthEast trying to be smarter with technology that helps pinpoint the busiest areas and then predicts where they think they'll get the next call.

While no one is calling the increase of calls a crisis, it does show how busy paramedics are, which can be an indicator that hospitals, fire fighters, and police officers are too.

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