Due to a surge in new COVID-19 cases resulting in an increased demand for medical attention, Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks has temporarily waived provisions of a local ordinance that requires Acadian Ambulance to operate all ambulances at the “advanced life support level.”
In a statement, Ricks said the emergency declaration will allow emergency medical services to respond with basic life support “when an informed determination is made by the Acadian Ambulance medical director.”
The emergency declaration will remain in effect until the current emergency conditions “no longer exist or until it is terminated by a majority of the Parish Governing Authority,” Ricks said in a statement.
“This action comes as Livingston Parish tackles the resurgence of the COVID-19 emergency caused by the Delta Variant that has placed an extreme burden on Acadian Ambulance Service within the Parish,” Ricks said.
“In order to allow Acadian Ambulance Service to respond appropriately to the increased number of calls for ambulance service, the Declaration will allow Basic Life Support response when an informed determination is made by the Acadian Ambulance medical director.”
Ricks’ announcement comes as Livingston Parish faces its worst surge in new COVID-19 cases to date, with much of the spread fueled by the more transmissible delta variant.
In July, Livingston Parish set a record for most new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a single month, reporting 1,922. The parish is on pace to blow past that mark in August, when officials have already reported 1,476 confirmed cases in 11 days, or roughly 134 a day.
The recent surge has placed “an extreme burden” on Acadian Ambulance Service, which is under contract with the parish to provide emergency transport of residents to local emergency rooms and hospital facilities in the surrounding area.
Prior to the emergency declaration, Acadian Ambulance Service was required by a local ordinance to respond to medical emergencies “at the Advanced Life Support Level within Livingston Parish.”
But that has become problematic as Acadian Ambulance experiences an increased number of calls for ambulance transport.
In addition, wait times at emergency rooms have more than doubled in the last several weeks as more and more patients seek medical attention at healthcare facilities. According to Ricks’ statement, medical personnel are waiting an average of 59 minutes to drop off a patient in an emergency room, up from 28 minutes before the pandemic.
“It’s straining all of the emergency rooms and ambulance systems,” Ricks said during a phone call with The News.
The emergency declaration “will ensure that Acadian Ambulance Service can continue to meet the extreme need for ambulance service to help preserve the lives of the citizens of Livingston Parish,” Ricks said in the statement.
Now when responding to an emergency medical call within the parish, Acadian Ambulance may “exercise its best medical judgment” to respond with a basic life support ambulance unit rather than an advanced life support ambulance unit when it is justified.
The executive order will also allow EMTs to independently respond to calls requiring only basic care so they can free up paramedics, who were previously required to be present during all ambulance transports.
In the phone call with The News, Ricks said this is a move other parishes that Acadian Ambulance serves have already done.
“Other parishes have already done this,” Ricks said. “We are the last one. But this basically frees [Acadian Ambulance] up to bring in other personnel and equipment while we’re in the middle of this crisis. They can use other personnel that aren’t trained in life support but are well trained for many other issues, like a broken arm or something like that.”
“We’re just trying to take care of the people in our parish and ease some of the stress off our emergency responders,” Ricks said.