Midstate EMS company advises patients not to call for COVID testing

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — The more COVID testing the better but there’s one place not to call for a test.

An EMS company in the Midstate stresses how its services are for emergencies only not for COVID testing. Cumberland Goodwill EMS have their hands full with emergency calls.

But when folks call asking to get tested for COVID, that can cause major delays. Cumberland Goodwill EMS received an overwhelming number of calls about COVID testing.

Assistant Chief Nathan Harig says dispatch would get calls about five times a week from people wanting to get tested for COVID.

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“We understand that testing and the resource availability is really strained in some places right now but we’re not the answer, 911 is used for emergencies, and if you dial us we can’t give you a test in the field and if we’re taking you to the emergency room you could be waiting 12 to 24 hours and there’s no guarantee that a test is going to take place there,” Harig said.

Harig says patients should be reaching out to their doctor, not 9-1-1.

“But when we’re talking about people who might just you know, have that mild cough or sore throat, or migraine, that’s not a situation that requires 9-1-1, and really they should be communicating with their own physician,” Harig said.

Harig says ambulances are for emergencies and when someone calls for routine testing that slows down those who need immediate care.

“It’s even more critical that you as a member of the community are using 9-1-1 for those emergency cases and not for routine COVID tests because if we’re already running down units then it’s harder to get to someone who is critically ill or injured,” Harig said.

First responders say you should call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, fever, or intense chest pain.

“If you are having a medical emergency COVID or not you’re having those chest pains difficulty breathing, dial 9-1-1 we can’t stress enough that’s what we’re here for not the routine COVID test,” Harig said.

First responders recommend that if you are experiencing COVID symptoms, you should isolate yourself, wear your mask, and contact your doctor.

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