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Spike in Flu-Related Calls Prompts REMSA To Take Precautions

Several REMSA ambulances are parked in a lot.

In a recent two-week period, there were more than one thousand lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Washoe County. Due to the outbreak, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, or REMSA, is experiencing record-breaking calls for service. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports, as a result, paramedics will be taking precautionary measures.

Earlier this week, REMSA had a 15% spike in respiratory-illness related calls compared to the same time last year. Spokesperson Adam Heinz says emergency dispatchers are notifying responders when the call could be related to the flu so precautions can be taken to minimize the spread of the virus.

“Many times that is wearing a gown, putting on a mask, obviously wearing gloves, and eye protection before they make contact with the patient, which can be a little intimidating," Heinz explains."But the purpose of that is to minimize exposure to our responders so that we can keep them healthy and they’re available which is a critical obviously infrastructure for the community.”

In just a 24-hour period earlier this week, REMSA received more than 250 total calls for service and transported nearly 200 of them. That’s a more than a 30% increase compared to the same time last year.

There have been seven flu-related deaths in the county since October.

Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.
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