UPDATE: Kern County Public Health moves to lowest tier of EMS Surge Plan


UPDATE (3/1): Kern County Public Health says the county is now in the lowest tier of its EMS System Surge Plan.

The department said Emergency Medical Services has transitioned from the Level 2 “yellow” tier to the Level 1 “green” tier today due to improvements in 911 call volume, ambulance availability, patient offload times at hospitals and a lower percentage of staff impacted by COVID-19.

On Dec. 30, the county implemented the EMS System Surge Plan in response to the significant impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and the emergency response system. The plan allows for flexibility in gathering additional resources and prioritizing the most critical emergency calls.

“Meeting the threshold to move to Level 1 is encouraging news and an indication that Kern County is beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 winter surge,” said Public Health Director Brynn Carrigan. “We thank our residents for doing their part to help slow the spread of this disease.”

(12/30): BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County Public Health is making some changes to the Emergency Medical Services system due to a significant increase in 911 calls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help reduce the strain on the system, the department said it is implementing a new Emergency Medical Services System Surge Plan. The plan is aimed at providing the best level of patient care by prioritizing EMS response given the high demand.

The department said the new plan has four levels that will determine how EMS responds based upon thresholds met in some or all of the following areas: Volume of 911 calls, ambulance availability based on COVID-19 transports, patient offload times at hospitals and the percentage of staff impacted by COVID-19.

As of now, KCPH said the EMS system has met the threshold for Level 2, or the yellow tier, of the surge plan. The department said this means that as of today, the community may experience the following: 

  • Ambulances will only respond to low-priority 911 calls when there are sufficient resources available. If an ambulance is not available to be dispatched, the caller will be informed of the situation and provided other options for obtaining care by the approved ambulance dispatch center, including contacting a primary care or urgent care physician. 
  • The county has integrated an additional emergency response agency into the system to respond to low-priority calls when ambulances are not available.

“The county will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and make appropriate decisions to ensure the EMS system continues to provide the best emergency response and care to our residents without interruption,” KCPH said in a news release.

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