The Charles County Department of Emergency Services is asking for the community’s help to alleviate the unprecedented strain that COVID-19 and its emerging variants have placed on the area’s emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, frontline responders, and hospitals.

Residents can assist in the following ways:

  • Avoid going to emergency department/hospital for minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, and low-grade fevers. Instead, seek non-emergency care from primary care physicians or urgent care centers.
  • Limit 9-1-1 EMS calls to possible life-threatening conditions such as:
    • Chest pains or persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
    • Blueish lips or face
    • Severe pain that is new and doesn’t go away
    • Traumatic injury
    • Unconscious or altered mental status
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Stroke
    • Overdose
    • Allergic reaction with swelling and/or respiratory difficulty
    • Seizure
    • Diabetic emergencies
    • Life-threatening mental health issues (e.g., suicidal)
    • Burns
    • Childbirth (active labor or complications)
  • Get vaccinated and/or receive the COVID-19 booster, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Help limit COVID-19 transmission by socially distancing, washing hands regularly, and wearing a mask.
  • Limit exposure to others, especially if there has been close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or there are COVID-19 symptoms.

Increased numbers of hospitalizations have led to longer patient wait times in the area’s emergency departments, as well as a shortage of available staffed beds in hospitals. Healthcare facilities are being required to triage (sort) patients as they arrive to ensure the sickest receive treatment first. In some cases, patients with non-life-threatening emergencies may wait for extended periods, some exceeding 24 hours. Consequently, calling 9-1-1 for an ambulance does not guarantee faster care. Because local hospitals may be full, ambulances may be required to take patients to other regions. This takes emergency medical services units out of their communities for extended periods, making them less available for urgent 9-1-1 calls such as heart attacks and vehicle accidents.

By following these guidelines, the Charles County community can help decrease COVID-19 transmission and, in so doing, decrease the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. For more information about COVID-19 and related resources, visit https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/.


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