FRESNO, California (KSEE) — It’s been helping clog up Fresno County hospitals for years: Ambulances taking patients to overwhelmed emergency rooms. In essence, preventing paramedics and EMTs from helping more patients.

To combat the problem, the Fresno County Department of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services has been rolling out several new procedures over the years — most recently, implementing a new app for first responders to use.

It’s called LynxStat and it was created by American Ambulance, according to Dan Lynch, the county’s EMS Director.

On the app, local hospitals are listed and show how many ambulances are already there, as well as how many are on the way. It also shows how long the first ambulance has been waiting.

It’s been informing crews which hospital is the best one to bring their patients to, because too many are just sitting at ERs waiting, Lynch said.

In June 2017, 90% of ambulances sent to Community Regional Medical Center stayed there for more than an hour, according to the latest state data. At that time for St. Agnes Medical Center, the stay was more than 40 minutes.

Both times are higher than the state standard of 30 minutes.

Hospital# of Transports Wait Time for 90% of Calls
Community Regional Medical Center 2,9271:15:42
St. Agnes Medical Center2.06940:54
Kaiser Permanente Fresno 65727:58
*Numbers are from June 2017.

“We’ve had an incident recently [where a patient waited] up to six and seven hours, that’s too long,” Lynch said. “Those ambulances need to be out in the community.”

Aside from the app, Lynch said crews now also drop off patients into ER waiting rooms if they don’t need immediate care.

“The day of people thinking they can call the ambulance because it’ll be quicker to get seen is gone. The ambulance will take them and leave them in the waiting room,” he said.

Lynch said the biggest thing his department is doing is identifying “frequent flyers,” people who are using ambulances too much.

“We’re looking for any way to keep ambulances from getting stuck in those emergency departments and not serving their communities,” he said.

As we’ve reported, another way the county has helped with the issue is sending qualified mental health patients directly to crisis centers, as opposed to the ER.