Fire Department implements new field triage procedures

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Colorado Springs, Colo. - Under the order of its Medical Directors, and in the interest of patient care and overall public health, the Colorado Springs Fire Department is implementing new field triage procedures. Implementation of these procedures began on Monday, March 16, 2020.

The new triage system screens for potential COVID-19 patients; identifying those individuals who are healthy enough to remain at home, as well as those in need of more advanced medical care.

This change is necessary to reduce the overcrowding of hospital emergency departments and to reduce the exposure risk of those who are not suspected of having COVID-19. The exposure risk for individuals going through hospitals right now has increased, and we are committed to doing our part to help patients receive the care they need in the safest setting possible.

In some cases, after responding EMTs examine a patient, that patient may be advised that transport to a hospital is not indicated. This non-transport protocol is being implemented for two primary reasons to include:

  1. If a patient is stable with normal vital signs and no associated risk factors, an Emergency Room will not provide them any additional care, and as they do not meet testing criteria they will NOT be tested for COVID-19 at an ER. They will also be entering an area that may expose them to unnecessary risk. In this situation, the patient will be provided with physician-approved home care guidance in line with current CDC recommendations.
  2. Hospital resources and supplies are limited, as are the numbers of healthcare workers, ranging from doctors to first responders. All of these resources must be protected so that the most critically ill in our community can receive the care they need.

CSFD will continue to provide necessary emergency medical care as per usual. This protocol should not be taken to mean that our community is at risk. Quite to the contrary. By establishing clear protocols for responding paramedics and EMTs, CSFD is able to minimize risk to patients while helping our hospitals remain available to provide help where it is needed.

If a patient is sick enough to stay in a hospital and may require treatment such as oxygen, IV hydration, or blood pressure medications, they will be transported to the appropriate medical facility.

CSFD personnel operate under the license of physicians in the role of Medial Directors. These new protocols are carefully constructed medical procedures, under which our firefighters must operate.

The 9-1-1 system and hospital emergency departments are designed to care for those in the community who are experiencing life-threatening emergencies. We encourage all members of the Colorado Springs community to utilize these services appropriately during these unprecedented times. It is again our goal to help patients receive the medical care they need in the safest setting possible.

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