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It’s a Record! KAA’s 496 Responses in 2021 “Real Tribute to All EMTs”

Submitted by Clark Judge, KAA.

(Jan. 11, 2022) — The Killingworth Ambulance Association last year responded to 496 emergency calls, and if that seems like a lot it’s because it is.

It’s a one-year record.

According to figures kept by the KAA, the 496 responses are a 34 percent increase over the 370 of 2020 and a 40 percent jump from the 350 of 2019. Included were 138 fourth-quarter calls in 2021, a 36.6 percent increase from the 101 in 2020.

“It’s far and away the most we’ve ever had,” said chief of service Mike Haaga.

The ready explanation, it would seem, would be COVID, especially with the recent surge of the Omicron variant. But that’s not the case. In fact, most responses weren’t for persons complaining of COVID-like symptoms.

They were for victims of falls.

Sound familiar? It should. Most calls the past two years have been for falls. This time, however, the number increased significantly. Where there were 71 in 2020 and 75 the year before, that number vaulted to 117 in 2021 — or 23.6 percent of all calls for 2021 and nearly double anything else.

That’s consistent with figures from 2020, where falls comprised 19.2 percent of all responses and were more than double the figure for breathing problems, which was second at 9.2. It’s also consistent with nationwide figures. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the leading cause of emergency-room visits, accounting for over 8 million annually.

Want more? What follows are the five leading responses for KAA emergency service in 2021:

  1. Falls – 117 (23.6 percent)
  2. Sickness – 61 (12.3 percent).
  3. Breathing problems – 36 (7.3 percent)
  4. Chest Pain – 26 (5.2 percent)
  5. Altered mental status – 25 (5.0 percent)

Of interest here is that where overall figures increased … and, in some cases, significantly … the number of responses for traffic accidents did not. The KAA responded to 24 in 2020 (6.8 percent), which ranked fifth. It responded to another 24 last year (4.8), which ranked sixth.

“I’m proud of the fact that we’re able to cover all these calls on a completely volunteer basis,” said Haaga. “We’re one of the few ambulance services around here that is completely volunteer. Just about all of the others have some period of time where they pay crews to cover.”

The KAA has 26 EMTs and two EMRs.

Remarkably, the KAA completed its record year with its ambulance out of service for a week due to repairs. Fortunately, the Clinton Volunteer Fire Company came to the rescue. Three times in the past two years it loaned the KAA a vehicle while the Killingworth ambulance was serviced.

“For a small volunteer service like ours, covering this large number of calls — and sharp increase in the number of calls — is a real tribute to all the responding EMTs,” said KAA president Dan O’Sullivan. “It is even more impressive when you factor in the risk to them, never knowing if the patient might also have COVID. I thank all the responders and their families for providing this critical service to the community.”

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