Seminole County fire chief asks residents to limit 911 calls, cites uptick in rescues during COVID

More EMTs being called to help local hospitals

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County’s fire chief is asking the public to limit calls to 911 as EMTs are being tied up with rescues during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seminole County Fire Department said this week that it is noticing more patients being hospitalized, impacting ambulance availability.

The department compared its data, revealing there are 309 patients hospitalized in Seminole County, whereas last month its emergency management tallied 86. Intensive care unit patients are at 75, compared to 26 a month ago. SCFD said the average call volume is up more than 12% from this point last year.

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Officials said as the numbers continue to climb they are stressing when not to call 911, adding that it could tie up valuable resources.

Non-emergency calls include:

  • Minor extremity injuries with no deformities or loss of feeling or circulation.
  • Minor cuts or abrasions with bleeding stopped with good feeling and color
  • Earache
  • Typical headache for patient
  • Back pain, not in severe pain
  • Sore throat that can swallow, patient must be able to drink/swallow water
  • These patients should seek medical attention from an urgent care or personal physician, but not from the Emergency Department or by calling 911

Regarding COVID-19, fire officials are asking people to call only if they have difficulty breathing, persistent pressure on the chest and similar symptoms. Otherwise, patients are asked to call their healthcare provider.

“Thinking you can get seen by the hospital faster if I call 911 -- hospitals are backlogged and requesting EMS from the fire department will not allow you to ‘skip’ wait times if you do not have a serious medical problem,” a spokesperson for the fire department said.

SCFD advises people to call 911 to report a fire, a crash, a serious medical issue or when life or property is endangered.