How to get medical assistance during the pandemic

Yucaipa's AMR is busy.

The San Bernardino County publication, the County Wire, has a few suggestions if you should need help for your illness or injury during this pandemic.

Deputy Chief of the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District and Incident Commander of San Bernardino County All-Hazard Incident Management Team Tim Marshall said, “San Bernardino is similar to other counties throughout the region in its approach to providing health care to its residents and visitors.”

With the numbers rising of people being infected with COVID-19 and seeking medical attention, the virus is tightening its grip on the hospital and emergency medical systems.

For patients with life-threatening illnesses or complex injuries, the emergency department at a local hospital is the destination of choice. The emergency department is often the first to be overwhelmed with patients seeking treatment resulting in wait times that can last several hours.

When the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital is at capacity, the overflow goes to the emergency department (ED) due to the training and capabilities of the ED staff. This also creates a shortage of available beds in the ED and ICU. One ICU patient held in the ED often requires the medical attention of an ED nurse who would otherwise be able to manage three patients at once, causing a shortage of staff per patient ratio. This lack of beds and staffing creates a backup in the system that cannot be undone as additional patients continue to arrive by ambulance and private vehicles.

Ambulances that arrive at an emergency department with no open beds are forced to wait. This decreases the number of ambulances available for additional 911 calls, notes San Bernardino County officials.

“Many agencies have a standard of arriving on scene of a 911 call in under 10 minutes,” said Nathan Cooke, deputy chief of the Chino Valley Fire District and Deputy Incident Commander of the XBO IMT. “However, the effects of a hospital system stretched to its limits creates a trickle-down effect that threatens the stability of the 911 emergency medical system.”

The county of San Bernardino is suggesting a few alternative options by utilizing the full capacity of the health care system. Start by contacting your primary medical provider or nurse advice line for routine medical concerns or to discuss your symptoms. “This will help you in deciding the appropriate care for the current complaint, decreasing the workload of the emergency departments and keeping ambulances available for the critically ill and injured,” said Marshall.

With the triple threat of colds, flu and COVID-19, your safest actions remain frequent hand washing, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces, limiting contact with others to essential activities and wearing a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The XBO IMT is an all hazard incident management team comprised of members from fire agencies throughout San Bernardino County along with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Tasked with providing on-scene incident management support during incidents or events that exceed a jurisdiction’s or agency’s capability or capacity. XBO IMT applies its knowledge and expertise to support large fires that extend beyond the initial attack phase, mass gathering events such as major sports events and concerts, and mass casualty incidents. Incident management teams provide the five functions of Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance and operate under a delegation of authority from the local jurisdiction.

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