New Orleans, LA

Orleans Parish Communication District activates protocol to triage calls related to COVID-19 symptoms

Curtis Macken

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Orleans Parish Communication District, or OPCD, Medical Director and Director of Emergency Medical Service, EMS, and the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch has elevated the agency's Pandemic Triage Level to Level 1, or known as Low Triage Phase, through Emergency Directive 21-01. Started on August 2 at 11.00 a.m., the emergency directive activates Protocol 36 for more efficient triage of calls for emergency services related to potential COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have decided to implement Protocol 36 in an attempt to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 between New Orleans residents, visitors, and first responders,” said OPCD Executive Director Tyrell Morris. “OPCD will continue doing everything in our power to help the residents and visitors of New Orleans during this pandemic, but we also need everyone to understand that vaccinations are our way out of this pandemic. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated before further action needs to be taken.”

Protocol 36 activation establishes guidelines in using certified emergency medical dispatchers (EMD) to sort medical emergency calls for service and to provide necessary response plan adjustment and resource allocation.

When EMD receives an emergency call related to COVID-19 symptoms, the caller will be categorized into one of four triage response levels defined by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch. This helps first responders to be efficient and effective, while keeping situational awareness without being overloaded by calls.

“Having certified emergency medical dispatchers helps triage the most critical 9-1-1 calls, getting our ambulances to the right place,” said Director of New Orleans EMS Dr. Emily Nichols. “Although we anticipate some relief with this new directive, we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We owe this to our community.”

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