First responders say medical calls are still higher than normal

Even with Tippecanoe Counties' positivity rate at 4.4 percent, TEAS says their call load hasn't slowed.

Posted: Feb 23, 2021 12:29 AM
Updated: Feb 23, 2021 12:40 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)-Paramedics and EMTs are still taking every COVID-19 precaution possible.

"We don't know if patients are positive or not so they gown and we gown until we are proven different," said John Zartman the Director TEAS.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Tippecanoe Emergency Ambulance Service has seen an increase in its call numbers.

"From the beginning of the pandemic yes we have had increased calls," said Zartman.  "Anywhere from 12 to 15 runs per day."

Even with Tippecanoe Counties' positivity rate at 4.4 percent, TEAS says their call load hasn't slowed.

"We've not really seen a decline in that at this point in time but there has been an increase," said Zartman.

However, for dispatchers who are answering 911 calls, they say there have been fewer calls regarding COVID-19 now that Tippecanoe Counties' positivity rate has declined.

"COVID calls definitely have gone way down," said Joe Potts  Assistant Supervisor at Tippecanoe County Dispatch. "We would take several calls back at the height of it for ambulances for people testing positive and having symptoms but we definitely feel it has gone way down."

For both professions, protocols have changed. TEAS originally had one ambulance dedicated to COVID-19 calls but that is no longer the case. 

"We couldn't dedicate that truck constantly for all the COVID-19 calls that were coming in so we went ahead and just made that protocol for all the trucks instead of just one," added Zartman.

As for dispatchers, for certain calls, they don't always send an officer if one isn't required.

"Obviously if it required an in-person response we would go and take necessary protocols but we are trying to handle a lot of things over the phone if we can," said Potts.

While both first responders say the changes have been stressful they are grateful that they have always been able to send an ambulance when one is needed.

"I would never want the health of my loved ones to come down to someone on a phone making a decision so we have been very fortunate," said Potts. 

According to a report by CBS in cities like Los Angeles, first responders were told not to take COVID patients to the hospital if they weren't likely to make it. That's a decision that has never had to be made in Tippecanoe County. While dispatchers say COVID-19 calls are down medical calls remain up. Especially for mental health issues. 

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Cases: 657037

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CountyCasesDeaths
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