Circleville paramedics dealing with a saline crisis that could impact patients

With a winter storm on the way and the dangerous flu season, first responders in Circleville are concerned they don’t have some of the supplies to help people. (WSYX/WTTE)

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- With a winter storm on the way and the dangerous flu season, first responders in Circleville are concerned they don’t have some of the supplies to help people.

The fire department said it is running low on saline because of a national back log. Captain Aaron Kerns said “it’s not that the paramedics are not wanting to help these people,it’s just that we don’t have the supplies to be able to do so.”

Paramedics said they are on their last two packs of saline that is used to deliver medicine and hydrate patients. Circleville is a city of about 14,000 people. Fire and EMS take an average of ten calls and up to 26 calls a day. It takes an average of about four minutes to get a patient to the local Berger Hospital.

“The earlier we can start an IV on a patient, the more benefit it is going to be to the patient, it is going to expedite their care,” said Kerns.

There was already a saline shortage before hurricane season.

“Hurricane Maria that impacted Puerto Rico has damaged one of the manufacturing plants that has made normal saline for us. It is just not in operation right now,” said Kerns.

Some cities had less saline on hand because it expires every year.

“It comes down to budgetary issues. With a smaller community, you don’t have much of a tax base so they may not be able to have as much of a stockpile,” said Kerns.

Paramedics said they are looking for alternatives and workarounds to saline. Kerns said he hopes lawmakers will help come up with a contingency plan to allow other agencies that have extra saline to help each other out.

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