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When should you call 911 for help when you have coronavirus symptoms

HOUSTON – Many people with coronavirus symptoms are told to stay home and self-quarantine. But, now more people are calling 911 when they should not be. It’s important to know when you should call 91-1 with coronavirus related symptoms.

“We are starting to see a small bump in our 911 from people who are concerned. Citizens that are concerned that they’ve contracted the coronavirus,” said Dr. Christopher Stephens, Medical Director of Community Fire Department. “Unfortunately, a lot of citizens are calling just due to being scared of the virus itself, concerned.”

Dr. Stephens said too many unnecessary calls to 911 could put a strain on the system.

“We still are in the tail end of flu season. There are still common colds going around. Allergy season is going around - there are a lot of people with a mild cough,” explains Dr. Stephens. “There’s a lot of pollen in the air, and we also have patients with low-grade fevers and general sore throats and congestion, that sort of thing.”

When To Call 911 for Help

It’s important to know when to call for help. There are certain signs and symptoms to be concerned about.

“If they are having trouble breathing, any persistent pain or pressure in their chest. If they have any confusion or they are just not acting normal. If they feel like they are getting to the point that they can’t drink any fluids and they just feel really, really sick,” explains Dr. Stephens.

If you go to the hospital with mild symptoms, chances are they will send you home for recovery. (Then you might just be exposing more people to the virus.) For mild coronavirus symptoms, doctors recommend to self-quarantine.

“The best thing is to stay at home, supportive care, take care of yourself, quarantine yourself from others, so you don’t spread the virus if you do have it,” Dr. Stephens said.

Helps preserve precious PPE

Dr. Stephens said easing up on the unnecessary 911 calls helps in other ways too.

“It protects our front line first responders who are making the calls every day, and having to wear their required Personal protective equipment or PPE,” he explains. “They are going on multiple calls and getting exposed to multiple patients, and it preserves their PPE, which is a precious resource right now.”

“In the next one to two weeks, we anticipate a possible surge in patients, and that’s when we could run short in PPE. It’s a possibility. It is always a possibility,” Dr. Stephens said.

Dr. Stephens wants to make sure everyone knows that First Responders work day in and day out to protect and serve the community, and they are proud to do so.

“As emergency physicians on the front lines with these heroes and the first responders - they are proud to go out and protect the citizens in our community, and they will continue to do so,” Dr. Stephens said.