Escambia County 911, EMS tied up with unnecessary COVID-related calls, officials say

Escambia County

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — As more people test positive for COVID-19, more people are calling 911 to go to a hospital for unnecessary reasons, according to county officials.

Public Safety Director Eric Gilmore said they’re seeing more people calling either because they tested positive or because they’re sick and need to be tested. He said people should only be going to the hospital if they have severe symptoms like trouble breathing.

“We’re having people call the 911 system, our EMS system, because they’ve tested positive for COVID,” Gilmore said. “What do you expect the hospital to do at that point? They think there’s something that can be done. Well, it’s kinda like you’ve got to let it run its course at that point in time but we transport them to the hospital anyway.”

Gilmore said the hospitals are seeing fewer patients on ventilators and fewer deaths than we saw during the Delta variant surge. It’s still possible as we saw this week when ECAT bus driver MaryAnn Stanton died at the age of 59 after a battle with COVID-19.

“It’s horrible and my thoughts and prayers go out to her family,” Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said. “That’s a tough job. You’re there and you’re confined in a space with people all day long. It’s a difficult thing to go through.”

Hospital officials said the number of COVID-19 patients has tripled in the past two weeks but they have enough equipment and beds to deal with it. As of Wednesday, Jan. 12 there were 187 hospital patients with COVID-19 in Escambia County.

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