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REMSA Health CEO’s Message About Medical 9-1-1 Calls During COVID-19 Pandemic

Important message for Washoe County residents from Dean Dow, President & CEO of REMSA Health: 

Around the country, healthcare systems are once again being inundated with response to the COVID-19 crisis and increasing cases of the Delta variant. Here at home, in Washoe County, that is no different. 

I am writing to you today to ask for your help in keeping emergency services available for life-threatening, emergency situations, such as accidents, cardiac arrest, severe abdominal pain, sudden loss of consciousness or difficulty breathing. Please only call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing a true medical emergency. 

Our medical dispatch team is answering, at times, as many as 200% more calls for emergency care than we were a month ago. Our paramedics are responding to nearly three times as many requests for help as they were a month ago. We have added additional resources into our system to help address this issue. However, more often than not, we are being asked to respond to COVID-19-related calls that do not require emergency transport. We are actively hiring to meet the demand. Across our organization, please know that our teams are working diligently every single day to ensure that our community is cared for and so that we can be there for you when it matters most. 

When we transport a patient to the hospital, the patient is our responsibility until we can transition care to the hospital; with COVID-19 on the rise and inundating hospitals, we are seeing this time lengthen each day. We have also reached out to our honorable mutual aid partners, many of whom are also battling the wildfires and every day emergency medical care. It is clear that limited resources are a shared strain across our region. 

It is absolutely imperative that you consider all of your options when seeking medical care, especially as it is related to COVID-19, before you call 9-1-1. We encourage you to instead call your primary care doctor, visit your nearest Urgent Care facility or reach out to your insurance company about access to a Nurse Health Line or other telemedicine offering. If you call 9-1-1 for a non-emergency, please anticipate that you will be navigated to one of these alternative pathways. 

I hope you understand that we are not asking you to forgo medical care should you be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; instead we are pleading with you to preserve our emergency medical resources for immediately life-threatening situations.  

REMSA Health prides itself in meeting the standards of providing care in a quick and efficient manner, but we cannot maintain this level of response with overloaded systems. 

We appreciate your understanding, and thank you for supporting our community. We are in this together.

– Dean


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