Nurse calls 911 on ER crowding in Washington hospital

A nurse at St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Wash., called local fire and rescue workers to ask for backup in the overcrowded emergency room, NBC affiliate KING5 reported Oct. 11. 

St. Michael Medical Center is the only hospital on the Kitsap Peninsula, which is west of Seattle. At the time, there were five nurses on duty and 45 patients in the waiting room. 

"We're drowning," the nurse said twice in her call to dispatchers, according to the Kitsap Sun. "We're in dire straits, we need the fire department help, can somebody come up here and help us?"

Fire crews were dispatched and spent an hour and a half taking vitals, moving patients and cleaning, according to the newspaper. 

Staffing issues at the hospital have been straining emergency medical services, Fire Chief James Gillard told KING5. The time between EMS taking a patient to the emergency room and actually transferring care has been rising since July, putting some crews out of service for six hours. 

"We continue to prioritize patients with the most urgent medical conditions, even when we are experiencing capacity challenges. We work to manage appropriate staffing levels and to balance capacity systemwide as effectively as we can," the hospital said in a statement provided to the news outlets. 

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