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'People are waiting...and it shouldn't be that way' | California Assembly hears from EMS workers on long wait times at hospitals

Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, said long wait times are not good for patients, ambulance crews, firefighters, medics or someone making a 911 call.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — EMS workers across the state spoke out to lawmakers Wednesday about extremely long wait times from when their ambulance arrives to when the patient actually gets a bed in the hospital.

Some are even saying this is the most significant medical crisis in state.

On Wednesday, the California State Assembly Committee on Emergency Management held an oversight hearing about how this problem has been decades in the making, but has only recently been exasperated by staffing shortages and high demand because of the latest COVID-19 surge.

Reports have surfaced about how ambulances are waiting for as long as eight hours for their patients to get a hospital bed. Some of the proposed solutions suggested Wednesday include: 

  • Develop new regulations as current EMS regulations were established more than 40 years ago.  
  • Fine hospitals anytime they hold an ambulance for longer than 20 minutes. 
  • Ask hospitals to hire their own EMT’s to care for patients once they’re dropped off. 
  • Ask hospitals to pay EMS services for their wait times anytime they are held over. 

Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, said these long wait times are not good for patients, ambulance crews, firefighters, medics or someone making an urgent call to 911.

"Because of the Chairmanship that I have in this committee, we can move some legislation forward if it’s all for the right reason and it’s really going to help at the end of the day, get people treated and get people taken care of in a timely fashion," Rodriguez said.

This issue is something the Chair and Vice Chair of the committee both understood the importance of, as they each served over three decades as emergency medical service workers before becoming lawmakers.

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