TWINSBURG, Ohio (WJW) – The Twinsburg Fire Department is asking residents to refrain from making 911 calls for issues that are not actual medical emergencies. 

A perfect storm is gathering in the delivery of emergency medical service, according to paramedics.

They have witnessed firsthand the impact of an aging population in need of care, coupled with staffing shortages in the medical field and among first responders, leading to emergency rooms being swamped with patients. 

“It’s nobody’s fault. They forecasted this ten years ago, we just need more people to become nurses and paramedics,” Twinsburg Assistant Fire Chief Steve Bosso said.

Amid a surge in 911 calls that is putting an even greater strain on the system, the fire department is asking taxpayers to limit 911 calls that are tying up crews and slowing their response to real emergencies.

“The sniffles, you know, they think it’s the precursor of COVID. Your swollen ankles, things that you can cure with an icepack, or a doctor’s visit or calling the doctor. It’s not an emergency call. We’re an emergency service. We are not a transport service,” said Chief Bosso.

Instead of calling 911, consider going directly to an urgent care center or an emergency room.

Paramedics point out that patients can maintain their health through regular visits to the doctor, and limit the need for emergency care by properly taking medications and following the advice of their doctors on everything from diet to physical therapy.

They stress that if you have a less serious medical issue, a trip to the ER in a life squad does not guarantee immediate care.

“If you have a sprained ankle, you’re getting off the cot and sitting in the waiting room with everybody else. We’ve seen it happen,” said Chief Bosso. 

But the fire department also recognizes that what seems like a minor issue could actually be a serious medical condition.

“You know a headache can be just a headache, but it could be a precursor to a stroke. If it’s not getting any better, call the doctor. Don’t wait until it gets to the point where now you have breathing problems and you need us,” said Chief Bosso.

For those who are unsure about whether they should call 911, the chief says if you call for help, firefighters and paramedics will be there for you no matter what, but their response may be slowed by other calls.