911 Operators Across Country Now Screening for Ebola
Reports from around the country are starting to appear on 911 operators being given scripts to ask callers Ebola screening questions.
In Central Florida, Volusia County 911 operators have been given an Ebola script, reports MyNews13:
“”911 what is your emergency?” Asks a Volusia County dispatcher, reading from a script with a list of new questions in direct response to the new protocol dealing with Ebola concerns in the US.
“Dispatchers now want to know if the caller, or the patient traveled to parts of the world where the deadly virus, Ebola, has hit hardest like Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.
“”Just a question we have to ask, did she recently travel out of the country or been in contact with anybody that has traveled out of the country?” Asks the dispatcher.”
“WJZ has obtained a checklist for ebola preparedness that was sent to EMS crews across Maryland. It states: “with the recent events in Texas, it is becoming more evident that EMS is likely to be the first contact for these patients.”
…”Police 911 dispatchers are also being told to ask sick patients if they’ve recently traveled– specifically to West Africa.”
“New York City’s 911 operators have been told to ask people who describe Ebola-like symptoms and ask for ambulances if they’ve traveled to West Africa recently.
“That question is also becoming the norm at AMR, which operates private ambulances in 40 states. It has told its staff of 19,000 paramedics and EMTs that if patients with these symptoms answer in the affirmative, they must alert other health authorities and put on extra protective gear, including shoe coverings, a mask and goggles.”
(Fort Bend County, Texas) “Dispatchers at 911 are also being told to ask specific questions when handling any medical emergency calls. Questions like, does the patient have a fever or any other Ebola symptoms? Or has the person been to Western Africa in the last three weeks? If they answer yes to those questions then first responders handling those calls will take special precautions.”
“In the event that an emergency is called into Jonesboro’s 911 dispatch center, questions related to Ebola will be asked. Jeff Presley is E911 Director with the City of Jonesboro and explains why this will take place.
““The Centers for Disease Control has issued new compliance regulations,” said Presley. “At this point, it is only a recommendation, and a proactive approach to public safety. The City of Jonesboro has updated our protocol to ask a few more questions. We never know if the person that is calling has traveled to another country, so if they have high fever, muscle weakness, we will ask travel questions and things like that.”
“Presley says while this is not required, he says the additional questions can better prepare responders during emergency calls.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines last week for 911 operators (“public safety answering points.”)
“•PSAP call takers should consider screening callers for symptoms and risk factors of Ebola. Callers should be asked if they, or someone at the incident, have fever of greater than 38.6 degrees Celsius or 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and if they have additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained bleeding.
◦If PSAP call takers suspect a caller is reporting symptoms of Ebola, they should screen callers for risk factors within the past 3 weeks before onset of symptoms. Risk factors include:
◾Contact with blood or body fluids of a patient known to have or suspected to have Ebola;
“Residence in–or travel to–a country where an Ebola outbreak is occurring (a list of impacted countries can be accessed at the following link: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html); or
“Direct handling of bats or nonhuman primates from disease-endemic areas.
“◦If PSAP call takers have information alerting them to a person with possible Ebola, they should make sure any first responders and EMS personnel are made confidentially aware of the potential for Ebola before the responders arrive on scene.
“◦If responding at an airport or other port of entry to the United States, the PSAP should notify the CDC Quarantine Station for the port of entry.”