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Loma Linda University Medical Center & Children's Hospital

A crew of Tracy paramedics has been deployed to Southern California to help staff a hospital that has been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

South San Joaquin County Fire Authority Division Chief David Bramell said that the four paramedics will join the staff at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta, Riverside County, for two weeks. It’s a 112-bed hospital, one of six in the Loma Linda University system and one of 17 in Riverside County, where 1,166 people are hospitalized for COVID-19, including 343 in intensive care.

Bramell said the local paramedics traveled to Murrieta on Tuesday night and started their first shift on Wednesday morning. They will work 12-hour shifts, with two of the local paramedics working the day shift, two working the night shift, in the hospital’s emergency room. That will allow more of the hospital’s staff to focus its efforts on COVID-19 patients.

“Chief (Randall) Bradley and our staff are super supportive of any opportunity to help make a positive impact in the battle against COVID, and I think this is a good example of our folks rising to the task and finding ways to make a meaningful impact, not only in our community but wherever they may be needed,” Bramell said.

He said that while the need for trained medical personnel is increasing statewide and locally, the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, working through the California Office of Emergency Services, has identified the need in Riverside County as especially critical.

“Although hospitals in our area are at zero capacity, hospitals in Southern California I think are in more of a crisis than up here at the moment,” Bramell said.

The deployment will have little impact on local response. Bramell estimated that more than 40 firefighters among the department’s 75 total staff are licensed paramedics.

“When we first started to provide advanced life support services — I believe it was 2002, 2003, around there — we went from having a few paramedics to have a majority of our line staff licensed as paramedics,” he said. “Every staffed unit, every staffed fire engine or ladder truck we have, has at least one paramedic and oftentimes there’s two.”

• Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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