Some fire and EMS agencies being directed to limit hospital runs to life-threatening emergencies

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – Several fire and EMS agencies that typically transport patients to Johnson Memorial Hospital are being directed to limit those transports to life-threatening emergencies.

Departments including Franklin, Whiteland, Bargersville and others were directed Tuesday night to implement Johnson County’s Stage 2 COVID Protocol, which is aimed at limiting hospital visits to only the most serious situations.

“First of all, we want to make sure everybody understands that they still need to call 911 if they need our services,” said Bargersville Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser.  “We definitely want to come out and be able to evaluate patients, work with them and talk through them.”

Once a 911 call is received, Funkhouser said first responders will evaluate the patient and explore possible options that don’t involve an ambulance ride.

“Work with them to see whether or not they need to go to the ER, whether or not they need to be in the hospital or admitted, or maybe this is something where some self-care at home might be able to help out at this point,” Funkhouser said.

The protocol comes as area hospitals are struggling to keep up with COVID-19 patients, in addition to others.  Johnson Memorial Hospital began diverting ER patients to other hospitals Tuesday night.  Persistent staffing challenges have made it difficult for the hospital to keep pace with a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations.

“We’re just trying to lower the numbers in the hospital on situations that may not be a life-threatening emergency, so that way they have the resources to be able to handle those at this time,” Funkhouser said.

When a hospital visit is needed, Funkhouser said choosing where to take a patient is becoming a bigger challenge.  Tuesday night, in particular, was a stressful situation.

“Multiple hospitals on the south side went on diversion yesterday at the same time,” he said.  “So, for us as a transporting agency, we’re just trying to look around and see where can we take a patient to and get them the help they need.”

“We were having phone calls and conversations last night about well if this happens right now, which hospitals do you take them to,” Funkhouser continued.

You can read the full announcement from Bargersville Fire Department below:

“The Bargersville Fire Department has been directed by Johnson Memorial Hospital to implement our Stage 2 COVID Protocol. 

We are under a National Emergency

If you call 911 our EMS personnel will conduct an assessment and consultation with you about your symptoms to determine if you need to be transported to the ER. 

Never refrain from calling 911. 

We would rather assess you in your home than not at all.

  • Hospitals are at near capacity and have limited resources.
  • We need to limit transport to the hospital to life-threatening emergencies.
  • We are asking that if your symptoms may be handled at home, that you stay at home and self-isolate.
  • Avoiding socializing at this time will help stop the spread of the virus to you and many others. PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
  • If you go outside, wear a mask at all times covering both your mouth AND nose. 
  • Stay at home other than necessary work, medical, or the immediate needs to others.
  • Wash your hands when you leave and when you return to your home.
  • Avoid public areas and large crowds.
  • Tell your employer or educator when you have symptoms.
  • Keep 6 feet from others when possible.
  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by a respiratory virus. It is spread by respiratory droplets, much like the common cold or flu.  It is highly contagious and is spread from person to person contact, or in contact with objects infected by other people.  
  • Keep your hands clean and wash them often.  Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes until after you have washed your hands.
  • It is a new virus and is causing significant health problems for many that contract the disease.  

Communication

  • If you would like some information on when and how you should seek medical care, contact your primary care provider.  You may also contact the JMH Covid-19 Hotline or Indiana State Health Department. Numbers provided below.
  • Call EMS if needed
  • Call 911 if your symptoms worsen and you need further assistance.

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