Though the vast majority of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases are still in China, the virus continues to spread around the world. The virus presents as a respiratory illness with mild to severe symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is spread via respiratory droplets with close contact, like the flu. Limited person-to-person spread has occurred.
Guidance for EMS and PSAP
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published interim guidance for emergency medical services (EMS) and 911 public safety answering points (PSAP) on 2019-nCoV.
It recommends that 911 and emergency medical dispatch screen callers for signs, symptoms and risk factors of 2019-nCoV. Dispatch should report potential 2019-nCoV calls to EMS before their arrival. EMS can evaluate individuals and transport them as a Person Under Investigation if necessary.
The interim guidance suggests specific modifications to EMS practices for patient assessment, personal protective equipment (PPE) use and aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, CPR, etc.). EMS employers can use the guidance to assess current practices, procedures and training and ensure they are up-to-date. This includes:
- Donning and doffing PPE.
- Task-specific training and education.
- Use of respiratory devices.
- Ensuring the availability of adequate supplies.
Both PSAP and EMS departments responding to patients at ports of entry or airports that are CDC-designated quarantine stations should be in contact with the local CDC quarantine station to let them know of potential cases. Familiarize your staff with the CDC’s interim guidance and reach out to the quarantine station before you need them.