Latvian Emergency Medical Service to focus only on life-threatening situations

In order to ensure resident are able to reach Emergency Medical Service in life-threatening situations, NMPD emergency dispatch will start evaluating calls received on 113 emergency hotline more carefully from 6 October onward.
According to NMPD, ambulance brigades will no longer be sent out to low-priority situations. This means 113 dispatch operators will no longer respond to calls regarding injuries or other health problems. Callers will be asked to turn to their general practitioner or the nearest healthcare institution for medical assistance.
The decision regarding this extreme measure was made following outlooks from epidemiologists regarding the rapid spread of Covid-19, which causes a rapid influx of patients to hospitals and a major increase of calls requesting an ambulance.
Without limiting incoming calls patients in life-threatening situations in need of immediate medical assistance could be put at risk.
NMPD director Liene Cipule stresses that unconsciousness, heart failure, stroke, massive burns, road traffic accidents, serious injuries sustained by adults and children alike – these are the situations in which every minute counts.
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«It is unacceptable for us to have no available ambulance teams to send to such calls,» stresses Cipule, adding that that a rapid climb of Covid-19 infection rates severely limits the number of ambulance teams NPMD is able to dispatch to emergencies.
The number of Covid-19 patients ambulance teams have to carry to the nearest hospitals has doubled in the last couple of weeks.
The influx of Covid-19 patients also increases the workload for hospitals: beds fill up quickly and it becomes more and more difficult to admit new patients. This is why a situation has appeared when ambulance teams are busy for long periods of time – patients carried by ambulances have to spend up to three hours in queues outside hospitals before they are properly processes and admitted.
NMPD Operational Centre manager Raita Krišjāne stresses that the fact that ambulances are forced to wait and are unable to return to their dispatch centre to attend to new emergencies creates the risk of there being no free ambulances to be dispatched to life-threatening emergencies.
There are also growing concerns over the ever-increasing number of calls received by 113 emergency hotline. While normally about 1 500 calls are received every day under normal circumstances, this week the average number of calls at times exceeds 2 000.
Residents are urged to not use 113 as an information hotline. Doing this creates the risk of a person who is in dire need of medical assistance not being able to reach NMPD in time.
To ensure NMPD is able to dispatch ambulance teams to life-threatening emergencies, the service informs that ambulance teams will not be dispatched to less important emergencies, such as childbirth situations if the process passes without complications, if residents receive burns that do not exceed the size of the victim’s palm, if the sustained arm or leg injury is not life-threatening, or in case of food poisoning or diarrhea, etc.
In such situations residents are asked to use their own means of transportation to get to a healthcare institution.
Residents are also urged to check their home medicine cabinets and first aid kits so that they have everything they need to deal with injuries or other medical emergencies.
The service also urges residents to keep track of their children to avoid injuries and potential accidents.
Because of the rapid spread of Covid-19 and increasing workload of hospitals, NMPD has developed a new algorithm in order to focus on potentially life-threatening situations instead of less dangerous situations, as confirmed by NMPD director Cipule at a press-conference on Wednesday, 6 October.