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EMS System Taxed; Think Before You Call

Published on Aug 18, 2021

As the strain of COVID-19 continues to challenge emergency response systems and hospitals, Polk Fire Chief Robert Weech asks that 9-1-1 calls be limited to the most serious of emergencies.

“If you can avoid using the 9-1-1 system, this is a good time to do that,” Polk Fire Chief Robert Weech said. “The system is under strain. Certainly, if you have an emergency, stroke, heart attack or if you have an accident, certainly call 911. But if you have other ways of getting medical care, you need to exhaust those at this time so that we can deal with those bigger emergencies.”

As one of the busiest departments in the nation, a high volume of patient traffic is nothing new. Polk Fire typically responds to about 280 calls a day during this time of year. But in recent weeks, it has averaged about 340 calls a day, up to about 400.

The increased number of calls has led to additional wait times for ambulances waiting to transfer patients to hospitals. It has also meant a delay in response times to certain parts of the county. We are working diligently with area hospitals during these challenging times.

“Right now, while our system is being taxed, we are still holding up and able to provide our normal level of service,” Weech added. “We just ask that, under the circumstances, if it isn’t an absolute emergency to find another way for medical care other than calling 9-1-1.”