Emergency response officials in the Panhandle say residents should not hesitate if they or someone they’re caring for is experiencing symptoms of a critical, emergent health issue such as stoke or a heart attack.
Such has been the case in other parts of the country during the virus pandemic according to Scotts Bluff County 911 Communications Director Ray Richards, with tragic results. “We don’t want to experience issues we’re seeing nationally, where people are having incredible health issues, or even dying at home, at work or before they get to the hospital, because they’re reluctant to call,” says Richards. “Please don’t hesitate to call, that’s what it’s there for.”
Richards tells KNEB News early messaging a few months ago about the threat to the health care system as the pandemic was emerging may have been confusing for some. “When a lot of this COVID information was being pushed out by the federal and state people, ‘Don’t go to the ER, don’t call your doctor’ because you’re going to overwhelm existing processes designed for other medical issues. We had that thrown at us so much that (some may have thought) ‘Well, I better not call 9-1-1, because I don’t want to overload the system’.”
He says dispatchers will ask COVD-19 related questions for the safety of responders, but the 9-1-1 system, EMTs, paramedics and medical facilities in the Panhandle are more than prepared to handle all emergent and critical calls.