Medical calls for help have decreased since pandemic, but emergencies still happen

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Paramedics have received fewer emergency calls since the coronavirus outbreak, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer emergencies.

Numbers show that life-threatening situations, like cardiac arrests, remain the same. There’s an answer for the lack of calls.

Fear

Paramedics say the reason is fear and they’re stressing the importance of calling 911 for medical emergencies.

HEMSI Paramedic Rachelle Stott has a new routine. “At the beginning of every shift when I come in I go ahead and wipe down every surface that you know you’re going to be touching,” said Stott.

Every inch matters.

“You’ve got your heart attack patients, and your stroke patients,” said Stott. “You know, those are really time sensitive emergencies.”

Concerns

The paramedics must follow strict sanitation protocols, but the public may not see it this way.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, and we started seeing cases in this area, our call volume has been down about 20%,” said HEMSI Chief Operations Officer Dea Calce. “Specifically, our cardiac and neurological calls have been down 25%.”

Calce said patients are concerned about COVID-19 exposure.

“What we’re concerned about is that people who are having symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke are not seeking treatment when they should be,” said Calce. “They’re waiting because they’re afraid it’s not safe to go by ambulance or it’s not safe to go to the hospital at all.”

A matter of the heart

But if your heart stops beating normally, you could risk losing consciousness.

“We’ve actually seen an uptick in cardiac arrest percentage,” said Calce.

Calce said people are afraid to call for help, but there’s no need to fear.

“We’ve got our gloves and masks that we wear with every patient contact,” said Stott. “We also provide surgical masks for all patients.”

Their job is to help and keep you safe.

Dial 911 as soon as you suspect something is wrong because paramedics can help you. Waiting is not worth the consequence.

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