Ambulances at the limit – paramedics sound the alarm – news


More and more emergency calls due to staff shortages: the paramedic is urgently looking for new employees.

Uli Lux and Patricia Ulrich race through Zurich with flashing lights and sirens: an emergency call from a doctor’s office, where an over 80-year-old man is suffering from acute shortness of breath. They can stabilize the patient and take him to the university hospital emergency room. “It was more of a stressful mission,” says Uli Lux in the “Rundschau” report.



The two paramedics from Protection & Rescue Zurich have not even finished filling out the mission report before the next mission is already calling. Both are at work with noticeable enthusiasm. But they also feel the pressure.

Strong increase in emergency calls

“After Covid, there were endless assignments,” says Uli Lux. “You noticed that we were missing people – due to illness or because they resigned.”

Preliminary figures from the Interfederation for Rescue Services show that emergency calls across Switzerland increased by 11 percent last year compared to the previous year. The trade associations are still speculating about the reasons. Part is due to population growth and Corona. But there is also: “Many people are not covered by a family doctor,” says Andrea Wettstein, who takes the calls in the Zurich operations control center. “Then they just call 144 because some of them don’t even know who else to turn to.”

combat staff shortages

In addition, there is a lack of staff, about which the professional association of rescue service personnel is concerned. President Michael Schumann: “We are convinced that it is now time to act. We have to set the course so that we are still positioned in the rescue service in the future so that an ambulance can come in time in an emergency.”

There are now critical situations several times a day where ambulances have to be moved from their original area so that another region is covered again and ready for the next emergency, adds Theo Flacher, Head of Operations and Prevention at Schutz & Rescue Zurich.

Bringing back retired paramedics

Employers have responded. There was a wage increase in Zurich and work is being done on more flexible part-time models. Retirees should also be brought back. In addition, so-called preclinical specialists are to be deployed in Zurich this year, who will go to the scene alone in certain cases and only decide there whether an ambulance is needed.

“The goal is that we can provide an ambulance with qualified personnel for urgent emergencies such as classic traffic accidents or a heart attack. The new function takes on a kind of triage, »says Michael Schumann, Head of Medical Services at Protection & Rescue Zurich.

The paramedics Uli Lux and Patricia Ulrich drive eight calls in their 12-hour shift that day, with few breaks. “In the long term, something has to change in any case,” says Uli Lux, “otherwise those who can still do it now will burn out.”

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