Changes in EMS utilization in the state of Maryland during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:Emergency Medical Services, disaster planning, pandemics
Introduction and objectives: Emergency medical services (EMS) is an invaluable healthcare resource, providing life-saving care in the prehospital setting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns that healthcare resources, including EMS, would be overwhelmed by the potential surge in critically ill patients. This study seeks to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on EMS utilization in the state of Maryland.
Methods: A retrospective review of data from the Maryland Emergency Medical Services Data System was performed. EMS call volumes were compared from March 1 to August 31 in the years 2018, 2019, and 2020. In addition, adult cases from the three time periods that contained an EMS impression of stroke, cardiac arrest, asthma, traumatic injury, ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), sepsis, and overdose were also analyzed.
Results: There was a significant decrease in overall EMS call volumes in the state of Maryland in the first 6 months of 2020 compared to the prior 2 years. While the total number of calls decreased, a higher proportion of patients in 2020 had EMS impressions of cardiac arrest, STEMI, stroke, and traumatic injury compared to the previous 2 years. Additionally, there was an increase in termination of resuscitation for out of hospital cardiac arrest.
Conclusion: In the state of Maryland, overall call volumes decreased, but the proportion of EMS patients with time-sensitive illnesses increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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