Short-staffed Wake County EMS forced to delay some calls

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- If you call 9-1-1 in Wake County, there's a good chance you might have to wait for an ambulance if you don't have a serious, life-threatening emergency.

First responders said they've run more than 10,000 calls each month in May, June and July -- they're on pace for even more in August.

"We will be there if it's a non-emergency," said Brian Brooks, assistant chief at Wake County EMS. "Be patient, we will be there at some point in time."

Chief Brooks said calls for mental health and overdoses are up across the board.

Summer is normally the busiest time but he said people who delayed care last year are causing a swell this summer.

"We understand that this is their emergency at the time, but we can't justify sending an ambulance to someone with a sprained ankle versus someone having a heart attack," he said.

Chief Brooks said there's a group of 25 EMS workers set to join the ranks but they need to do more to convince people to join an already hard profession.

Johnston County said it's up to 100 calls per day from 80.

"We have had anaphylaxis before and have had to use our epi-pen," said Kira Kroboth, whose 9-year-old son Elias has a severe peanut allergy.

She is trained to call 9-1-1 after that first epi-pen jab. As the COVID-19 pandemic started, doctors told her she might want to handle things in her Raleigh house.

"Every meal is sort of a risk like it always has been but one we'd have to magically treat at home," she said, whose call would likely be put to the top of the list for Wake County.

But she doesn't want to find out.

"When it happened last time and if it were to happen first thing, I want to put my child in the hands of professionals because it is a life-threatening situation," Kira said.
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