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ESO: 9-1-1 Calls Drop for MVCs, STEMI Amid COVID-19 Outbreak


ESO, a data and software company serving emergency medical services (EMS), fire departments and hospitals, has shared data regarding 9-1-1 calls associated with motor vehicle crashes, cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke during the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on the data, emergency responses for motor vehicle crashes, heart attack and stroke have declined, while cardiac arrest calls have not decreased.

“The data we are seeing show some interesting trends around how communities are using 9-1-1 during COVID-19,” said Dr. Brent Myers, Chief Medical Officer for ESO. “Not surprisingly, we have seen an increase in the number of calls to 9-1-1 related to COVID-19. However, we are seeing a decrease in the number of 9-1-1 calls overall as well as those related to motor vehicle crashes. Considering the number of shelter-in-place orders and other social distancing requirements, this is something we expected. What is surprising is to see a decrease in calls related to heart attack and stroke. While it is too early to determine causes, two broad scenarios are possible. First, patients could be self-transporting to the hospital with chest pains or stroke symptoms. When a specific community is experiencing disaster and the 9-1-1 system is overwhelmed, this may be necessary. Our data indicate, however, that most areas of the nation are not experiencing such a situation and there is sufficient 9-1-1 EMS capacity. Second, and more worrisome, patients could be remaining at home and not seeking care at all.”

The data show:

  • Motor Vehicle Crashes (down ~45%): From January 2020 through mid-March 2020, data show a steady number of 9-1-1 calls related to motor vehicle crashes (MVC) at about 1,600 a day. Beginning the middle of March, MVC-related calls began to decrease significantly, to about 870 a day through mid-April.
  • Stroke (down ~20%): Stroke-related 9-1-1 calls have also decreased starting around mid-March 2020 and continue to decline through April 2020, dropping from about 250 a day to 200 a day.
  • Heart Attack (down 25%): Similar to stroke, heart attack-related 9-1-1 calls are also seeing a decrease following a similar arc as stroke – beginning in mid-March 2020. Calls have dropped from about 800 a day to about 600 a day.
  • Cardiac Arrest (no change): Cardiac arrest-related 9-1-1 calls have remained steady since the beginning of the year (January 2020) at about 250 a day.

“The data around stroke and heart attack are very concerning since the outcomes for these time-sensitive conditions without immediate intervention are substantially worse than for those who receive prompt treatment,” added Dr. Myers. “Individuals who experience signs and symptoms related to medical emergencies like stroke or heart attack should seek care.”

To see more data related to first responders and COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Resource Center.

All data were obtained from the ESO database consisting of more than 2,600 EMS agencies across the United States. The data excludes the state of California.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the press release above belong solely to the company/vendor/author and do not necessarily reflect those of EMS World or HMP.

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