Fla. county's 911 triage system earns national recognition
The Volusia County program allows dispatchers to transfer non-emergency 911 calls to a nurse for remote assessment and home care guidance
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Volusia County's E-911 Redirect Nurse Triage Program, the first of its kind in Florida, has received national recognition.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) — which advocates for county priorities in federal policymaking and promotes exemplary county policies and practices — will present the Volusia County program with an achievement award during their Maryland based annual conference in July.
“Congratulations to everyone involved in developing this innovative program!” said NACo communications specialist Lindsey Maggard in an email to the county. “Your hard work will yield positive results for Volusia County residents.”
The program, launched in December 2019, helps reduce time, costs and life-saving resources when responding to medical 911 calls. If a 911 operator determines the call isn't serious enough to send an ambulance, they will transfer the caller to a nurse staffed from local hospitals who will ask a list of questions and either give home-care instructions, refer the caler to a doctor or send an ambulance.
For patients who aren’t sent an ambulance, a nurse follows up with a phone call to check on them.
“We’re very proud of the dedication and teamwork that went into getting this program up and running,” said Volusia County Public Protection Director Joe Pozzo. “It was created from the ground up and is showing great results.”
Over the past year and a half, the program has helped to improve efficiency for patients, medics and hospitals, according to the county. From December 2019 through March 25, 2021, a total of 2,167 calls were referred to the nurse triage program.
That resulted in nearly 400 patients not requiring an EMS response, according to the county. During that same time period, advanced life support ambulances were able to remain in service on 176 different occasions due to a basic life support ambulance being able to respond to a call in their place.
The program was initially created in response to ambulance units frequently being dispatched to 911 medical calls that end up not being an emergency — everything from earaches, gout and hemorrhoids to sore throats, toothaches, skin rashes and anxiety, according to the county.
Those calls tied up ambulances and EMTs that weren’t available to respond to higher priority, potentially life-and-death medical calls.
Now, nurses trained in emergency medicine are assigned to the Volusia Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch center to help decide which medical calls require a true emergency response and which ones don’t.
As a result of the program, there is a more efficient response system that keeps more advanced life support ambulances in service and a reduction in the number of ambulance transport charges. The program has also helped alleviate overcrowding at hospital emergency rooms, according to the county.
“The recognition from NACo is wonderful news for our community,” added Volusia County Emergency Medical Services Director Jason Brady. “But the even bigger reward is seeing the positive impact that this program has had on our county’s emergency response system and the residents who rely on it to serve their medical needs.”
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Volusia Nurse Triage Program receives national recognition
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