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A comparison of call volumes before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey.

A comparison of call volumes before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey.

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A comparison of call volumes before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey.

Am J Emerg Med. 2019 Jan 08;:

Authors: Crutchfield AS, Harkey KA

Abstract
BACKGROUND: There is currently minimal data regarding the demand placed on Emergency Medical Services in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters. This retrospective review provides an opportunity to analyze call volumes to EMS and their distribution before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey in one area on the Texas Gulf Coast.
OBJECTIVES: Call volumes from Galveston Area Ambulance Authority were reviewed to provide insights for allocation of resources during natural disasters, identifying weaknesses in the current EMS system, and recommending proactive changes for future disasters.
METHODS: This study was conducted based on data gathered from the Galveston Area Ambulance Authority which records the call volumes to EMS as well as the paramedics' primary impression of the patients. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to calculate the differences in mean number of calls among the selected days for the periods before, during, and after the hurricane. Also, a paired t-test was used to calculate the difference in means for calls per day and the number calls during the peak days. Statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05 with a 95% confidence interval.
RESULTS: The 6 days prior to the storm had an average of 48 ± 6 calls, the 6 days during the storm had an average of 50 ± 15 calls, and the 6 days after the storm had an average of 49 ± 14 calls (p = 0.95). The peak number of calls between August 19-September 5 occurred the last 2 days of the storm, into the first 2 days after the storm. The average call volume for these four days was 65 ± 3 calls compared to the average number of calls for the total 18 days which was 49 ± 12 calls (p = 0.008). During the peak days, there were large percentages of calls due to: injury, general pain, respiratory distress, chest pain, and generalized weakness.
CONCLUSIONS: EMS and emergency departments can expect peak volumes in the last days of a natural disaster as well as the first few days after the event with increases in injuries, general pain, respiratory distress, chest pain, and generalized weakness. EMS education, proper hospital staffing, and increased telemedicine/community paramedicine usage presents opportunities to increase efficiency in community healthcare during natural disasters.

PMID: 30704948 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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