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How Idaho's crisis standards of care will impact emergency medical services

If conditions get worse, paramedics might have to decide if that patient would be better served to go to urgent care or their own doctor's office, instead of an ER.

BOISE, Idaho — What do Idaho's crisis standards of care mean for those tasked with taking Idahoans to a doctor in an emergency?

Ada County Paramedics told The 208 on Thursday that they are busier than ever before and some of that has to do with our increasing population, for sure, but some of that is related to the coronavirus.

So how busy has it been lately?  KTVB was told, on average, Ada County paramedics transport about 70% of the people they help. Before last May, they never had 3,000 calls in a month. Since May, they've had more than 3,000 calls every month. Officials added that when it's bad, they've dealt with 12-16 COVID-19 patients a day.

However, the good news is, as of now, they are not expecting crisis care standards to have an immediate impact on how they can help.

"About the only change we've seen in the last few weeks is one of the hospitals might not be as able to take patients in the ER but really not a lot has changed in the field for paramedics," Cheif Shawn Rayne with Ada County Paramedics told The 208. "Some things that we may do differently in the future would be things like navigating a patient to a more appropriate level of care as opposed to everybody going to the ER, but we're not quite there yet."

Navigating a patient means where they take them. In normal times, they take them to a hospital of preference, unless it's a critical emergency, then they go to the closest hospital.

If conditions get worse, paramedics might have to decide if that patient would be better served to go to urgent care or their own doctor's office, instead of an emergency room.

This will put an extra burden on paramedics, who are already getting geared up in full PPE (personal protective equipment) for every call because they don't know the covid status of the patient.

Paramedics have been under some of the same stresses as other healthcare workers for the past 18 months.

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