I-TEAM: City responds after Cleveland EMS asked possible coronavirus patient to walk to ER

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CLEVELAND (WJW) -- The FOX 8 I-TEAM is investigating why Cleveland EMS asked a patient if he could walk to the hospital since he thought he might have the coronavirus.

We’re also asking what will be different next time?

Recently, a call came in for the first possible local case of the coronavirus. A recording showed an EMS supervisor talked to a patient about walking to the hospital.

EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton now says, the EMS official “misspoke.”

On the recording, you hear a discussion at headquarters, “See if they can walk down to the emergency room…Get there on his own instead of getting us involved just because we’re not ready for this yet.”

“There was an emerging situation at the time. It was fairly new. We were in the process of updating our policies.” Commissioner Carlton told the I-TEAM, Wednesday, “There was some guidance that was incorrect as far as having the patient walk to the hospital.”

EMS says, in rare cases, dispatch may ask a patient to find some way to a hospital on his own if no ambulance is available and the call is not an emergency.

Meantime, Cleveland EMS now has new procedures for coronavirus cases. The procedures cover what gear crews should wear, how they should disinfect ambulances and what questions call takers should ask.

Carlton said, “When people do call 911, there’s actually call screening tools to make sure that we look at ‘can’ they possibly have it (the virus)?”

Turns out, the recent patient did not have the coronavirus. Still, what’s happening with the virus is developing daily worldwide.

Cleveland City Hall suggests you should stay up to date with the information your local health department provides about the virus and says you should follow their recommendations for protecting your family.

At the same time, Cleveland EMS is now much more prepared for any cases.

Nicole Carlton said, "We don’t want people, if they just have general concerns, flooding 911 systems. By all means, if it’s a life-threatening emergency, call your local 911.”

Cleveland EMS has even outfitted one ambulance so that the front cabin where the driver sits is sealed off in case paramedics have to transport someone in the back with the coronavirus. This is just one more way to try to limit the number of people exposed to the virus.

More on the coronavirus, here.

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