You might have seen on the local or national news that ambulance transports and visits to hospital emergency rooms have decreased as COVID-19 has spread. While it is important to reserve the use of 9-1-1 for true emergencies, it is equally important that you don’t delay care if you are experiencing a medical emergency. Emergencies include symptoms of a stroke, cardiac arrest, severe allergic reaction, uncontrolled bleeding, sudden loss of consciousness, severe abdominal pain, chest pain or difficulty breathing. Do not wait to call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Last week, REMSA’s clinical leadership recognized one of our ground ambulance crews for demonstrating outstanding clinical excellence during a recent call. The patient, an elderly gentleman who just finished a long walk, wasn’t feeling well. He attributed his illness to having eaten something that disagreed with him. The REMSA Paramedic and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) on the scene weren’t so sure. They connected the patient to a heart monitor and identified a heart attack. They successfully managed the immediate symptoms and notified the hospital’s cardiac team.
We share this story with you for a couple of reasons. The first is that we want you to know that in Washoe County, calling 9-1-1 and going to the emergency room right now – even in the midst of a pandemic – is safe. The second reason is as a reminder that REMSA’s Paramedics and AEMTs are known for providing compassionate, clinically excellent and safe patient care – at all times.
From the questions REMSA’s medically trained dispatchers ask about symptoms related to the pandemic while an ambulance is on its way to you, to paramedics wearing gloves, eye protection, a respirator mask and in certain circumstances, a gown, you can be assured that our healthcare providers are doing all they can to keep you and themselves safe from the spread of any infection. During this time, generally, family members will not be allowed to ride in the ambulance and there will be a clear plastic divider between the crew cab and the patient compartment to minimize possible exposure. All of this is done to ensure patient and provider health and safety.
As our community begins to emerge from our stay-at-home regulations, we encourage you to proceed with caution. To keep flattening the curve, everyone must continue effective handwashing, wearing face coverings when in public, practicing social distancing, limiting gatherings and staying home when sick.
Remember, medical emergencies don’t stop during a pandemic. Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention if you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms.
Dean C. Dow, President and CEO
Jenny Wilson, MD, Medical Director
Jeremy Gonda, MD, Medical Director