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Virginia Beach EMS seeing an increase in COVID-19 transports

Virginia Beach EMS leaders said they expect Septembers transports to be similar to August, if not higher.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — First responders are on the front line of this pandemic, and they want people to know the threat isn't over.

“It seems like calls are back-to-back,” said Virginia Beach EMS Captain Will Shackelford.

Shackelford said first responder crews in Virginia Beach are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.

“The hospitals are somewhat overloaded. At the same time, we are overloaded,” he said, “It feels like Groundhog Day. I feel like we are right back where we were.”

Shackelford said in August, workers and volunteers took more than 200 people with COVID-related symptoms to the hospital, which is the second-highest number since the start of the pandemic. First responders saw the highest number in January when EMS crews about 400 people to the hospital with COVID symptoms.

Shackelford said, “The vast majority of patients that we’ve interacted with and transported and been admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated. There have been some breakthrough cases, but the vast majority were unvaccinated.”

He urges people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Shackelford said it’s proven to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. For now, he said EMS workers and volunteers are wearing plenty of personal protective equipment.

“It’s all day long, the crews out in the street they are dealing with it all day,” he said. "They don’t like having to wear all the equipment, but they have to keep themselves safe and to keep their patients safe.”

Shackleford said he, along with his team, will push forward to keep the people of Virginia Beach healthy and safe.

Virginia Beach EMS leaders say more than a dozen volunteers decided to not ride on the ambulances anymore due to COVID-19. However, they say many of the volunteers still help in administration.