Federal ambulance teams coming to Maine to relieve ‘mounting pressure’ on first responders

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Eight Maine hospitals will host federal ambulance teams, which will assist the state’s emergency medical services (EMS) workers with non-emergency transportations of patients between medical facilities.

Gov. Janet Mills announced on December 21 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the state’s request for the ambulance teams. The ambulance teams will be hosted by Maine Medical Center in Portland, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor. 

The teams can be deployed to additional facilities as needed. They will be used to match patients with open beds in facilities around the state and, according to a press release from Mills’ office, “ensure they are treated in the facility that best meets their health care needs.”

When not transporting patients, members of the federal ambulance teams can assist hospital emergency rooms with the treatment of COVID-19 patients. 

J. Sam Hurley, the director of Maine’s Emergency Medical Services said in a December 21 press release that the ambulance teams will help relieve “mounting pressure” on first responders. 

“Our EMS crews continue to work tirelessly to transport patients throughout the healthcare system to ensure that they receive the highest quality care, from the most appropriate facility within our state. These federal resources will assist in relieving the mounting pressure on our first responders by offsetting some movement of patients between facilities when it exceeds our existing capacity. This is particularly important as we continue to see increases in the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” Hurley said.

The federal ambulance teams are part of President Joe Biden’s Winter Plan to address COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant. On December 21, Biden announced additional measures to the winter plan, including the deployment of “hundreds” of ambulances and emergency medical teams. 

The deployments are being managed by FEMA. According to the White House, in addition to the eight ambulances deployed to Maine, 30 were also deployed to New York. All state costs associated with the program are being reimbursed by the federal government.

Mills’ office also stated via press release that its request for additional doses of monoclonal antibodies was approved by the federal government on December 21. Its request for federal teams to help administer monoclonal antibodies in Maine hospitals is still pending.

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