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Mid-year data from 4.1M 911 calls reveals PPE use, cardiac arrest, overdose trends

Data company ESO released its mid-year report on call volume, PPE use and patient outcomes Thursday


By Laura French

AUSTIN, Texas — ESO, a data a software company serving EMS agencies, fire departments and hospitals, has released its 2020 mid-year EMS Index: COVID-19 Special Edition report outlining findings from 4.1 million 911 calls between Jan. 1 and July 31.

The data from more than 2,000 EMS agencies that are part of the nationwide ESO Data Collaborative revealed trends in call volume, cardiac arrests, overdoses, PPE use, patient outcomes and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 continues to affect our nation and has a significant impact on our healthcare system and people,” Dr. Brent Myers, chief medical officer for ESO, said in a statement. “With the information from the ESO Data Collaborative, we are able to identify specific COVID-19 trends affecting frontline health and public safety responders and providers – especially around 911 calls and whether patients are refusing transport, how and when providers are using PPE, if we are closing the data loop with hospitals, and how we are documenting vital information.”

Key findings include:

  • An 18% drop in 911 calls from early January through the end of April, with a 40% drop in motor vehicle crash calls. However, MVC calls began trending upward again beginning in May.
  • Substantial increases in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, especially in regions with increased COVID-19 cases. Cardiac arrests spiked by 36% this April compared to last year.
  • Penetrating injuries such as stabbings and gunshot wounds increased at a higher rate during the warmer months this year compared to last year.
  • There was no documentation of appropriate PPE usage in EMS patient care reports for up to 20% of documented COVID-19 patients.
  • Opioid overdose calls jumped 30% between Jan. 1 and July 31, with the largest spikes seen in May (41%) and June (53%).
  • The COVID-19 Specific Diagnosis Code that was officially implemented April 1, providing a HIPAA-compliant, automated mechanism for EMS providers to determine which of their patients have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, has allowed for population-level monitoring of COVID-19 trends.

“We are not through the pandemic as of yet, and timely analysis of data will be critical in the months to come,” Myers said in a statement. “We will continue monitoring the COVID-19 situation, helping to translate data into actionable information. Improved documentation of PPE usage, pulse oximetry, and patient temperatures are simple steps to better inform us all. Additionally, continued community education regarding the safety of medical evaluation for time-critical conditions is necessary.”

The full EMS Index: COVID-19 Special Edition can be downloaded here.