COVID-19 brings changes to Missoula emergency medical responses

Posted at 4:57 PM, Nov 18, 2020

MISSOULA — Emergency medical response -- like everything else -- looks quite different in the age of coronavirus.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency crews responded to medical issues like overdoses, heart attacks and accidents. But now, a large portion of the calls are COVID-related.

Missoula paramedic supervisor Jeff Welch says the quantity of calls dispatch receives nowadays is strikingly higher than normal.

He said that they’d receive two or three droplet precaution calls each day back in March -- calls that could potentially involve a COVID-19 scenario. Now, they’re responding to at least 20 of those calls each day.

Welch says these COVID-19 calls take a toll on their entire workflow.

“If you run a call like that -- that is presumed COVID -- or you're taking that COVID concern, that takes you out of service from the rehab side,” Welsh explained.

“So, you get to the hospital, then you gotta deeper clean on your ambulance. We have sprayers and we have a fogging machine,” he added. “We have some stuff that we spray on the ambulance, and have to let it sit for a time. So the turnaround time has increased.

Coming up during the Thursday 10 o’clock news MTN News will break down why COVID-19 calls have increased so much in the past few months.