The crew at Stevens County Ambulance Service (l to r): Mac Johnson, Byron Seggerman, Nathan Roy, Jessica Velde, and Operations Director Josh Fischer. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Even though there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Stevens County, many people are still fearful of entering a hospital emergency room or calling an ambulance, even when needed. Director of Stevens County Ambulance Service Josh Fischer told the KMRS Community Connection that one unanticipated effect of the pandemic has been a marked decrease in 911 calls.

“All across the state, actually, with EMS, run volumes are down on the ambulance by anywhere from 20 to 40% in some cases,” said Fischer. “And I think we’re seeing that in the ERs and the health care facilities as well, which is putting a financial strain on the system as well. We were all prepared for the strain it was going to put on the personnel and we remain ready, we remain prepared. And yet, I don’t know if we anticipated the decrease in run volume as we anticipated an increase in run volume.”

Fischer reassured the public that calling for an ambulance is perfectly safe and their service has modified a number of their approaches to deal with the new situation. They monitor their employees for any symptoms of illness, they have all the proper Personal Protective Equipment and they have added post-call decontamination procedures. Delaying a call to 911 in the midst of a medical emergency can be fatal, Fischer added.

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