Montera: How your paramedics are fighting COVID-19
Though it might seem that our community has been operating under the weight of the coronavirus epidemic for months, the timeline is actually shorter than you might realize.
It’s been less than three weeks since Eagle County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19; it’s been less than two weeks since Vail Resorts announced it was closing the resorts. Though time seems as if it’s been running slowly, we’re still at the starting line for this marathon.
However, Eagle County Paramedic Services and the health care community as a whole has been training for this race since the beginning of the year. In January, Eagle County established a communitywide COVID-19-specific task force; we started meeting weekly to plan and prepare for the arrival of the virus in the community. On March 1, we began meeting daily — first in person and now remotely.
Paramedics and EMTs are at the intersection of health care, public safety and public health, and we are here to respond to emergencies and provide skilled, compassionate care for our community.
Our newest initiative is in the area of telehealth. On March 13, ECPS launched a telemedicine program called Hippo Health designed to connect patients with their health care options beyond a hospital visit. We have been exploring this option for months prior to the pandemic, but we leaned into this innovative way to care for our community for 911 calls.
Accessible via an app or Chrome web browser, Hippo Health has talk, text and video capabilities to connect users with paramedics and their local established clinics quickly and securely. With the Hippo Health app, our paramedics can talk to patients en route and determine whether a trip to the emergency room is necessary. We can conduct a virtual assessment and determine how severe the illness is and make the best recommendations for your health. Then, we can follow up the next day with the same program to see how you’re doing.
Additionally, as COVID-19 continues to spread, the use of telemedicine technology such as Hippo Health can help reduce the risk of exposure to paramedics, too.
As the need to respond to our community increases, we’re also working on shoring up our team. We’ve brought on two nurses to assist our community paramedics and are working with other responders who have medical training to increase our response capability. Our team is dedicated to your health every day of the year — but now more than ever.
Our paramedics and EMTs are on the front line and ready to assist the community. This pandemic seems interminable, but we know that as we flatten the curve, the end will appear.
Christopher A. Montera is the CEO of Eagle County Paramedic Services. For more information about what your local paramedics do, visit http://www.eaglecountyparamedics.com.
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