EMSA Says Calls Up 10 Percent In Last Month Partly Due To Flu

Tuesday, January 15th 2013, 10:59 pm
By: Tess Maune

First responders say 911 calls have jumped 10 percent over the last month in the Tulsa area, and they're attributing the increase to the flu.

EMSA expects it will get worse before it gets better.

"It's cold, people are getting out, they're just getting sick. Everybody's immune system is just kind of shot at this point," said EMSA Supervisor Danielle Cain.

Cain said it's one of the most aggressive flu seasons in recent years.

She's doesn't normally work out of the truck, but EMSA has been so busy, it's fighting the flu with a larger crew.

"Today, I'm putting up an extra truck to kind of help out the field crews that have been kind of getting really busy," Cain said.

EMSA says the flu calls are coming in about four and a half weeks earlier than normal.

But even during a normal flu season, it says the call volume doesn't usually come close to what it's at now.

1/10/2013 Related Story: Distinguishing Between Flu And Other Bugs Is Key To Treatment

"We are on track to see a higher number of sick person calls related to influenza than we saw last year and in previous years," said EMSA Field Operations Supervisor James Hart.

Most patients are experiencing the typical warning signs of the flu, but EMSA says those symptoms can be the beginning of bigger issues, if not treated quickly.

"You've got to get all that stuff out, because the longer it stays, upper respiratory infections turn into pneumonia, and once you're in pneumonia, you're dealing with possible hospital stays at that point," Cain said.

Because they work in such tight quarters with those patients, some EMSA employees, Cain included, are also fighting the flu.

"Don't run yourself into pure exhaustion. It's one thing our employees are having problems with, we're having such high call volumes, it's running our defenses a little low," said EMSA Field Supervisor Tony McCarty.

The best advice from these paramedics is to eat well, stay hydrated and stay away from public places where you stand a chance of being exposed.

EMSA says many of their calls come from people who have no other access to healthcare.