BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Every day, Hall Ambulance paramedics and emergency medical technicians risk their lives to care for the sick and injured in our community. If you have an emergency, they are your first point of contact.
But like so many front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall first responders are under a great deal of stress, and constantly find themselves in dangerous situations that could expose them to the virus.
Starting with the first cases last spring, Hall, the ambulance provider for roughly 90% of Kern County, did not miss a beat getting ready, quickly gearing up and cleaning every single ambulance during these COVID times.
“We’re going to people’s houses, we’re going to medical centers, we’re going to medical centers, prisons, we’re picking up people anywhere you can imagine,” said Hall Ambulance Critical Care Transport Manager Manager Chris Leone last May.
Overall, the ambulance provider has seen a huge call volume increase. In December 2020, Hall responded to 9,704 emergency calls, a 9.6% increase from the previous year. Since the pandemic started, cardiac arrest calls were up 35% and mental health related calls were up 19%. The system is so busy that ambulances are not being sent to less serious calls.
During an exclusive ride-along with Paramedic Supervisor Joe Eastwood and EMT Sean Tinnish, the pair showed 17’s Eytan Wallace the challenges they face night after night, but also reflected about why they chose to give back.
“We do it for the citizens of Kern County,” Eastwood said. “We don’t do it for the parades or these news stories. I come to work every day loving my job to get on the ambulance to help someone’s loved one in a time of crisis.”
Tinnish echoed a similar sentiment.
“Knowing at the end of the day you helped someone in the worst time of their life, it’s worth the risk in my mind.”
*Scroll to the top of this article to watch the full report.