Marion County Fire Rescue Chief James Banta says that transports and call volume have both increased by over 20% and over 50 employees have had to miss time because of positive COVID-19 test results.
In an update to employees, Banta said that over the past three months, call volume has increased by 24% and transports have increased by 27%. At the same time, 54 employees were out at one point or another after having tested positive for COVID or coming in close contact with someone who did.
“COVID cases in our county are at an all-time high. Please wear all PPE on every call and document it in the ESO report,” said Banta, encouraging his staff to get vaccinated. ”Vaccine clinics remain open, and I encourage each of you to get the vaccine, if able.”
Banta says that the drastic increase in calls has made “units extremely busy” and has presented challenges to all staff.
“The drastic increase over a short period of time can overwhelm any EMS system,” said Banta. He says the organization has acquired approval for additional positions across EMS leadership, PRN, and other units.
Banta cited ongoing discussions between MCFR, AdventHealth, and Hospital Corporation of America “in regards to the hospital systems conducting its own interfacility transports,” as difficult.
“This has been a hard decision for me personally. MCFR has been the sole EMS provider in our community since 2008; however, our primary mission is to respond to emergency calls for service. Once other factors start to negatively impact our system, we have to look at all options to ensure our primary mission remains successful,” says Banta.
The most recent numbers released by the Florida Department of Health show that Marion County is experiencing its highest positivity rate (30%) and number of average daily cases (405+) of COVID-19 since the pandemic began nearly 18 months ago.