By Peggy Sands and Robert Devaney
For years, the 911 emergency number in Washington, D.C., which quickly dispatches paramedics to respond to medical crises (as well as police and fire personnel to other types of emergencies), has been increasingly clogged with non-emergency calls. Stories in the press recount how the public calls 911 for everything from headaches, coughs and sprained ankles to transportation to medical appointments. But no more.
As of April 19, the District has hired trained triage nurses to partner 24/7 with 911 dispatchers to determine which calls warrant emergency medical services and transportation. The nurses will divert calls that aren’t deemed urgent to medical care that doesn’t involve an ambulance or an emergency room, helping those in need get an appointment at a nearby clinic, even arranging for ride-share transportation.