Ambulance calls up during pandemic


Moody County Ambulance saw a jump of more than 100 calls last year during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first responders handled 754 calls in 2020, compared with 615 calls in 2019. The 2020 calls also exceeded the 2018 call numbers by about 100.
A majority of the calls, 66 percent, included transporting a patient to a facility, said Anthony Gengler, Moody County Ambulance director. He presented an annual report to Moody County commissioners.
The growth in the number of calls is not all attributed to COVID-19, he said. He estimates about 25 calls last year were because of the virus.
“We have not had 100 calls related to Covid,” he said. “Some of those people would have gone to Sioux Falls, but they ended up taking care of them here.”
A majority of people needing help last year fell into the 50 to 80-year-old category, with the 60 to 69-year-olds representing the most calls. But the ambulance service also had 10 calls for patients who were more than 100 years old.
The number of calls coming through 911 has increased over the last three years, Gengler said. Ambulances also are used to transport people to and from Avera Flandreau to another facility. The ambulance also is needed 75 to 100 times a year as standby for events such as rodeos and football games.
In Moody County, the ambulance service has three full-time staff and a number of part-time or on-call people who are medically trained or are able to drive the rig.
Revenue last year was $301,306. This year’s budget is $330,500.
“We can anticipate 2021 is going to be even greater (in revenue),” Gengler said, citing that it will include backpay for some billings.
Trends show that Wednesdays were the day of the week with the largest number of calls, followed by Fridays. Saturdays tend to be slower, he said.
Winter months typically are the busiest, often because of weather-related accidents, but August also is a busy month, data shows. The ambulance service averaged 62.75 calls a month.
While Flandreau has the most calls by far, adding up to hundreds of calls more than other areas of the county, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Colman, Trent and Egan also drew dozens of calls. There were no calls to Lone Rock, Lynn and Alliance townships.

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