Contra Costa Co. urges residents to limit 911 calls only to emergencies: Here's why, when to call

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Thursday, December 29, 2022
Here's why Contra Costa Co. is urging residents to limit 911 calls
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A Bay Area fire official says there is a shortage of ambulances to respond to life-saving incidents in Contra Costa County.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- A typical response to a 911 call includes police, fire and an ambulance. But there are times when an ambulance is not available.

"There (are) a number of different circumstances in our jurisdiction that we have down to zero ambulances available to be able to respond out those life-saving incidents," says Fire Captain Steve Aubert with Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

He says the shortage of ambulance services is a problem faced by emergency responders across the country. Aubert says Contra Costa County has roughly 30 ambulances to respond to 911 calls.

"Our ambulance services have been impacted by the pandemic, by the recent events that are going on, but also a large use of the ambulance service just for normal calls going to the hospitals," he says.

To reduce the strain on the health care services, Contra Costa County Health is urging residents to call 911 only in cases of a true emergency.

"Several hospitals in the community are reporting critically high level of patients occupying beds with more than 1,200 inpatients reported throughout the county. Hospital emergency departments are similarly impacted," it wrote in a statement.

"Just because you want to an ambulance ride, it doesn't necessarily mean that that's going to get you into an emergency room any faster," he explains.

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Captain Aubert says some instances of an emergency could be:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe pain
  • Broken bones
  • Getting burned
  • He points out that ride share programs are offered throughout the county for those who don't have transportation.

    MORE: Patients forced to the hospital on fire engines due to delayed 911 response times in Alameda County

    And finally, consider urgent care instead of the ER.

    "We do urge and encourage everyone to utilize other resources such as the advice nurses, such as urgent care, that is more apt to handle minor injuries and symptoms along those lines," says Captain Aubert.

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