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MedStar: Recent 911 trends are ‘concerning’

MedStar in Fort Worth, Texas, said significant decreases in response volume and transports could mean patients are reluctant to seek help during medical emergencies

By Laura French

FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas EMS agency has reported what it calls “concerning” 911 trends, as response volume and transports decrease while the number of cardiac arrest patients pronounced dead on scene increases.

MedStar Mobile Healthcare, which provides ambulance services for 15 cities in North Central Texas, said in a community release that its total response volume is down 19% since January, and ambulance transports to the hospital have decreased by 30%. MedStar also reported that it has responded to 38% more cardiac arrests so far this month than in April of 2019.

Of patients found to be in cardiac arrest, 54% more patients have been pronounced dead on scene by MedStar crews this month than in April of last year.

The agency wrote that crews are becoming concerned that patients are waiting too long to call 911 and avoiding going to the hospital due to fears of contracting COVID-19 or being admitted while visitor policies are tightly restricted.

MedStar also reached out to two other U.S. ambulance providers — Richmond Ambulance Authority in Virginia and a large hospital-based EMS system in New England that requested to remain anonymous — and said both services reported similar trends.

“It is important that people call 9-1-1 if they feel they are experiencing a medical emergency,” the agency said in its release. “Let your local EMS professionals respond, conduct a thorough medical assessment, and provide recommendations for the most appropriate medical care for you.”