The day begins with calls to the dispatch center. Linze Thompson, 26, records information: the state of patients’ health, their coronavirus test results and safety precautions the E.M.T.s must take.
The dispatcher notes an estimated time for patient pickup and contacts the crew on call. Crews time each transport down to the minute.
Once on location, Joshua Berrios, 30, dons a mask, gown, face shield, goggles and gloves. The E.M.T.s approach each scene as if the patient were positive for the coronavirus.
Javier De La Cruz, 23, checks each patient’s vital signs three times: when the E.M.T.s arrive, while in the ambulance and when the crew reaches its destination.
Emergency medical technicians for Amwest Ambulance have worked with coronavirus patients in Los Angeles since March. During this surge of cases in California, roughly 40 percent of the patients they transport are considered “Covid-19 probable.”
Brian Fula-Napoli, an Amwest manager, says the company’s costs have risen 25 to 30 percent because of the cost of supplies. If the trend continues, he worries there may be fewer private ambulance companies in the future.
Sometimes E.M.T. crews must wait four to six hours to find a bed in a hospital that will accept their patients’ insurance or where their doctors have privileges.
Crews have developed close relationships since the pandemic began in March. Many request certain partners, Mr. Fula-Napoli said, since they know each other’s working style and personalities. They have built up trust.