FORT WORTH The large number of 911 calls from people with H1N1-like symptoms may lead the city s ambulance provider to enlist help from taxi drivers. “We are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of flu and flu-like-symptom calls,” said Lara Kohl, spokeswoman for MedStar, the sole emergency services provider for Fort Worth and 14 surrounding cities. “Many times people with flu or flu-like symptoms don t require emergency care.”
In October 2008, MedStar answered 85 flu-related calls, Kohl said. In the first 25 days of this month, there were 239 flu- related calls. “It puts stress on our already-overloaded system,” she said. A MedStar advisory board asked the emergency provider to recommend different approaches to treating these patients rather than overwhelming emergency rooms. A decision won t be made until the board meets in December.
Kohl said one option being discussed is not transporting patients who don t require emergency care. Under the current policy, the ambulance service transports patients to a hospital if they request it. “We are considering changing that policy for the flu season,” she said.Read More, MedStar may ask taxi services for help as 911 calls about flu-like symptoms surge