FDNY urges residents to only call 911 for 'real' emergencies, not COVID testing

Reports indicate the city is experiencing a significant uptick of emergency calls amid the latest rise in new cases


Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A surge of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases is prompting plenty of city residents to seek out tests, but the FDNY on Wednesday urged New Yorkers to avoid calling 911 to ask for a trip to the hospital to get swabbed.

"New Yorkers — ambulances do not provide testing for COVID-19, and patients are not transported to a hospital to be tested upon request," the FDNY wrote in a tweet. "Transport decisions are made based on medical needs. Please only call 911 during a real emergency."

The department shared the message in multiple languages on Twitter, adding that residents should call 911 if they are enduring severe symptoms, like low oxygen level, high fever and chest pains.

Reports indicate the city is experiencing a significant uptick of emergency calls amid the latest rise in new cases, with the 911 system also experiencing instances of people calling because they are sick and want to be tested.

The high call volume comes as the FDNY is dealing with COVID-19 struggles of its own, with a bump in medical leave seen across the department's firefighter and EMS workers. The Daily News reported 30% of the city's EMS members and 17% of its firefighters are currently out sick, and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro has said the reduced workforce has "stressed" the department's ranks.

City-run testing sites can be found here. People who are immunocompromised or over the age of 65 can get at-home testing by calling 929-298-9400.

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(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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