Post-hurricane shortage of IV bags hurting Berks ambulances

'This is probably the most significant I've seen'

SPRING TWP., Pa. - An IV bag of saline can provide lifesaving benefits to patients heading to the hospital in an ambulance.

"If you're a trauma patient and you may have lost a lot of blood, we use saline to help replenish your fluids in your body," explained Carrie Frey, assistant chief with Western Berks Ambulance.

Now, according to the FDA, hurricane damage at a key IV bag manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico is causing a shortage.

"This is probably the most significant I've seen," said Capt. Joshua High, Western Berks Ambulance.

High orders life-saving supplies for Western Berks, and he's hearing some bad news about that production plant.

"We're not sure when we're going to be getting stuff," High said.

When it comes to restocking dates, there could be a long wait.

"And I'm looking at availability dates as far out as 2019," High explained.

He also said hospitals are higher priority.

"We are the low man on the totem pole when it comes to reordering medication. It's obviously going to go to the hospitals first," said Frey.

Also, unrelated to the hurricane, there are medication shortages. Couple that with a busy flu season, it's all making things more challenging for first responders, but they're finding ways to make it work.

"When we bring a patient into their facility and we've administered any fluids or medication, they try their best to restock us," High said.

High said regardless of the challenges, your health is in good hands.

"We're still gonna provide the absolute best care for you that we are capable of providing," he said.

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