Henrico adjusts response practices, urges calling 911 only in emergencies

Henrico County is modifying its public safety response practices due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and is urging the public to call 911 only during life-threatening emergencies. 

“Henrico is committed to protecting the health and safety of our community during this unprecedented event,” Fire Chief Alec Oughton said. “We ask the public to help us by calling 911 only for life-threatening emergencies and to remain patient, as we have modified some of our response protocols to protect the community and our public safety workers as well as to limit our use of personal protective equipment to times they are truly needed.  

“For residents who are already being judicious with 911 requests, your dispatchers, firefighters and volunteer rescue squad members thank you.” 

The county’s emergency response practices have been modified as follows: 

Extra questions: Emergency dispatchers will ask additional questions when someone calls 911. This will allow them to gather more information about the situation to better ensure the health and safety of the caller and the personnel who respond. 

Non-emergency calls for service: For calls that do not involve a life-threatening emergency, the initial response may include a phone call from a nurse or an emergency medical technician. They will discuss options with the caller and may recommend treatment from a primary care physician or urgent care center, or may dispatch a unit to assist.  

When crews respond: Once on scene, emergency medical personnel may initially have only one representative approach to assess the situation. This is designed to make maximum use of personal protective equipment and to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus. If responders are wearing personal protective equipment, please understand they are following recommendations of public health agencies. Do not be alarmed. 

Meet responders at the front door: If emergency help is called, please meet responders at the front door or ambulance, if possible. This will help protect the home or facility and will limit potential spread of the virus.   

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