Due to increase in COVID-19 cases, Kern’s Emergency Medical Services Program implements Emergency Medical Services System Surge Plan again

August 25, 2021 /

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kern County is seeing a significant increase in 911 calls and is experiencing a strain on Kern’s emergency response system, according to a news release.

Therefore, Kern County Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services Program is implementing the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System Surge Plan that was originally introduced in December 2020.  

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These alterations to the normal EMS system of care are designed to provide the best level of patient care by integrating additional resources and helping to prioritize responses as the system becomes further impacted by the current pandemic. 

“During times of extraordinary stress on our system, ensuring that those needing the most critical services are prioritized is of the utmost importance,” said Brynn Carrigan, Director of Kern County Public Health Services.

This plan has 4 levels that determine specific actions 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
  • Percentage of staff impacted by COVID-19

The EMS system has met the threshold for Level 2, or the yellow tier, of the EMS System Surge Plan.  Changes to the system will been implemented later this week.

Changes to the system that the community may experience are as follows:

  • Ambulances will only respond to low acuity 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 physician or urgent care.   
  • The County has integrated an additional emergency response agency, Pro-Safety into the system to respond to low acuity calls when ambulances are not available.

In the last three weeks, Kern has seen a 50.6 percent increase in the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines administered, according to Kern Public Health.

As of Aug. 22, 44.6 percent of Kern’s eligible population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On Aug. 10, Kern Public Health officials said 43.5 percent of Kern’s eligible population — those 12 and older — were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We continue to urge everyone eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as it remains of the greatest weapons against the virus,” Kern Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson said in a news release.

As of Aug. 23, Kern County had 236 COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 48 were in the intensive care unit. On Tuesday, Kern Public Health confirmed another 442 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 121,299 cases in Kern.