A video of a mother calling an ambulance for her son went viral last month as commenters debated whether she was over-reacting. A series of clips show the boy being loaded onto a stretcher after he was bit by a goat in a pumpkin patch.
The parents are facing backlash for utilizing precious resources, considering the country is facing a severe shortage of EMS workers.
The video, posted by @trippydayyz, has more than 28.7 million views and 47,000 comments since it first went live on October 8.
@trippydayyz My son gets bit by a goat at pumpkin patch. #california #fyp #pumpkinseason #pumpkinpatch #goat ♬ Oh No – Kreepa
The clip shows the boy standing next to a goat enclosure. He starts crying after the animal bites him. It then cuts to the boy on a stretcher being loaded onto an ambulance with a swollen, bruised finger.
In the second part of the video, his parents said the boy’s finger became infected, which is why they brought him to the hospital. They show their son in a hospital bed with an IV in his arm.
In another follow-up video, the parents said they’re on the hook for $15,000 for the ambulance because their insurance wouldn’t cover it.
The internet was quick to respond.
Many users criticized the parents for calling an ambulance when they could have driven him to the hospital.
“We’re facing a nationwide shortage of ambulance crews and people like you are taking up resources for things that should’ve been handled at an urgent care,” wrote one commenter. “There are people that are DYING, waiting for an ambulance because someone called for toe pain.”
“A call to the pediatrician would have sufficed,” another person wrote.
Brian Brooks, public information officer for Wake County EMS, says the area is currently facing a shortage of EMS workers. The hospitals are overflowing with patients, which means ambulances often have to wait to unload patients until a bed becomes available before they can make another run.
“Now, the doctor’s offices are overflowing. You can’t get an appointment… and the people that are not feeling well have no other option other than to go to the emergency room,” Brooks said. “So, when the emergency room overflows, that backs us up because we can’t transfer care. When we have to wait an hour or two to get the patient off of our bed, that unit is not available to run calls.”
Brooks says people should go to urgent care whenever possible instead of putting more stress on local ERs and ambulances.
Others criticized the parents for assuming the ambulance would be covered by insurance.
“Good!! You should have driven him to urgent care,” one person commented.
“Only in America can someone waste medical resources, then complain about it,” wrote another.
Most of the comments were critical, but some people did come to the parent’s defense by arguing that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge one another in these kinds of situations. They also wrote that the videos were obviously taken on different days, even though they were cut together to make it seem like everything was happening all at once.
The child’s parents also defended their actions.
“We didn’t take him [to the hospital] right away,” they wrote in the comments of the video. “We didn’t know it was going to get infected till we got home and it started swelling and discharging.”
A Dire Shortage
The national EMS shortage is nothing to joke about. Service providers have told the public to expect long wait times when calling 9-1-1… even when it’s a matter of life and death.
Companies are cutting services and consolidating call centers in the wake of the fallout caused by COVID-19.
Shawn Baird, President of the American Ambulance Association, says burnout and low wages have led to a mass exodus of workers.
“The magnitude has really blown up over the last few months,” Baird said. “When you take a system that was already fragile and stretched it, because you didn’t have enough people entering the field, then you throw a public health emergency and all of the additional burdens that it put on our workforce as well as the labor shortages across the entire economy, and it really has put us in a crisis mode.”
According to a 2020 AAA survey of 258 EMS organizations across the country, nearly a third of the workforce left their ambulance company after less than a year.
Ken Cummings, who leads Tri-Hospital EMS in Port Huron, Michigan, says the current crisis is “almost unmanageable.”
“I don’t think any EMS provider wants to go out in public and say that your service might be interrupted, but the reality is that because of the extremely low workforce situation right now, we are going to start to see delays. We’re already seeing that throughout the country right now,” Cummings added.
He estimates that there are around 1,000 EMS job openings in Michigan alone.
Judd Smith, the program director of Texas EMS School in Abilene, says high turnaround makes it nearly impossible to keep up with demand.
“In my experience running an EMS service, I’ve seen more than a few employees get into the industry and leave within six months,” Smith said. “I’ll see people work for three weeks and then move on to the next thing.”
The shortage will likely continue for months to come until the industry can hire more EMS workers. Let’s just hope people only use them in an emergency.