A reported shortage of ambulances is raising concerns about safety in The Villages.
There are a growing number of stories being circulated in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown about long wait times for ambulances for those needing transport to local medical facilities.
One recent story about a Village of Virginia Trace man who passed out while cutting his lawn indicated that he waited for an hour and 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
Neighbor Sally Ferguson went over to try to help. She was “absolutely appalled” at the incredibly long wait for the ambulance.
“This is just crazy,” Ferguson said. “It was an ungodly amount of time to wait for an ambulance.”
The neighbor had suffered a collapsed lung and was eventually transported to UF Health-The Villages Hospital.
Stories like this are becoming more and more common.
The ambulance service is known as “Sumter County EMS, Operated by American Medical Response” and is a completely separate entity from The Villages Public Safety Department.
The personnel who work for AMR have been reluctant to complain publicly for fear of reprisal, but they have provided information on background to Villages-News.com.
They say that numerous EMTs and paramedics have left due to low wages and poor working conditions. This has become such an issue that AMR is now staffing ambulances with two EMT-Basics instead of the required one EMT-Basic and one EMT-Paramedic.
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In addition, they say the department is so understaffed they are not able to put an adequate number of ambulances on the road any day of the week. Cardiac arrests, strokes, heart attacks, all these types of calls have had delays waiting on ambulances from this private, for-profit company, according to personnel.
They have indicated to Villages-News.com that AMR ambulances have been forced to respond to Sumter County from extreme distances such as Ocala or Orange County. They are urging residents to reach out to Sumter County commissioners to ask them to look into the problems.