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The effect of COVID-19 on emergency medical service call volumes and patient acuity: a cross-sectional study in Niagara, Ontario.
BMC Emerg Med. 2021 03 29; 21(1):39.BE

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The COVID-19 pandemic is a major public health problem. Subsequently, emergency medical services (EMS) have anecdotally experienced fluctuations in demand, with reports across Canada of both increased and decreased demand. Our primary objective was to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on call volumes for several determinants in Niagara Region EMS. Our secondary objective was to assess changes in paramedic-assigned patient acuity scores as determined using the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS).

METHODS

We analyzed data from a regional EMS database related to call type, volume, and patient acuity for January to May 2016-2020. We used statistical methods to assess differences in EMS calls between 2016 and 2019 and 2020.

RESULTS

A total of 114,507 EMS calls were made for the period of January 1 to May 26 between 2016 and 2020, inclusive. Overall, the incidence rate of EMS calls significantly decreased in 2020 compared to the total EMS calls in 2016-2019. Motor vehicle collisions decreased in 2020 relative to 2016-2019 (17%), while overdoses relatively increased (70%) in 2020 compared to 2016-2019. Calls for patients assigned a higher acuity score increased (CTAS 1) (4.1% vs. 2.9%).

CONCLUSION

We confirmed that overall, EMS calls have decreased since the emergence of COVID-19. However, this effect on call volume was not consistent across all call determinants, as some call types rose while others decreased. These findings indicate that COVID-19 may have led to actual changes in emergency medical service demand and will be of interest to other services planning for future pandemics or further waves of COVID-19.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Niagara Emergency Medical Service, Niagara, Canada.Department of Family Medicine and Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. gina.agarwal@gmail.com.Department of Family Medicine and Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.Niagara Emergency Medical Service, Niagara, Canada.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

33781229

Citation

Ferron, Richard, et al. "The Effect of COVID-19 On Emergency Medical Service Call Volumes and Patient Acuity: a Cross-sectional Study in Niagara, Ontario." BMC Emergency Medicine, vol. 21, no. 1, 2021, p. 39.
Ferron R, Agarwal G, Cooper R, et al. The effect of COVID-19 on emergency medical service call volumes and patient acuity: a cross-sectional study in Niagara, Ontario. BMC Emerg Med. 2021;21(1):39.
Ferron, R., Agarwal, G., Cooper, R., & Munkley, D. (2021). The effect of COVID-19 on emergency medical service call volumes and patient acuity: a cross-sectional study in Niagara, Ontario. BMC Emergency Medicine, 21(1), 39. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12873-021-00431-5
Ferron R, et al. The Effect of COVID-19 On Emergency Medical Service Call Volumes and Patient Acuity: a Cross-sectional Study in Niagara, Ontario. BMC Emerg Med. 2021 03 29;21(1):39. PubMed PMID: 33781229.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The effect of COVID-19 on emergency medical service call volumes and patient acuity: a cross-sectional study in Niagara, Ontario. AU - Ferron,Richard, AU - Agarwal,Gina, AU - Cooper,Rhiannon, AU - Munkley,Douglas, Y1 - 2021/03/29/ PY - 2020/09/23/received PY - 2021/03/17/accepted PY - 2021/3/30/entrez PY - 2021/3/31/pubmed PY - 2021/3/31/medline KW - COVID-19 KW - Emergency medical services KW - Emergency medicine KW - Health services SP - 39 EP - 39 JF - BMC emergency medicine JO - BMC Emerg Med VL - 21 IS - 1 N2 - BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic is a major public health problem. Subsequently, emergency medical services (EMS) have anecdotally experienced fluctuations in demand, with reports across Canada of both increased and decreased demand. Our primary objective was to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on call volumes for several determinants in Niagara Region EMS. Our secondary objective was to assess changes in paramedic-assigned patient acuity scores as determined using the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS). METHODS: We analyzed data from a regional EMS database related to call type, volume, and patient acuity for January to May 2016-2020. We used statistical methods to assess differences in EMS calls between 2016 and 2019 and 2020. RESULTS: A total of 114,507 EMS calls were made for the period of January 1 to May 26 between 2016 and 2020, inclusive. Overall, the incidence rate of EMS calls significantly decreased in 2020 compared to the total EMS calls in 2016-2019. Motor vehicle collisions decreased in 2020 relative to 2016-2019 (17%), while overdoses relatively increased (70%) in 2020 compared to 2016-2019. Calls for patients assigned a higher acuity score increased (CTAS 1) (4.1% vs. 2.9%). CONCLUSION: We confirmed that overall, EMS calls have decreased since the emergence of COVID-19. However, this effect on call volume was not consistent across all call determinants, as some call types rose while others decreased. These findings indicate that COVID-19 may have led to actual changes in emergency medical service demand and will be of interest to other services planning for future pandemics or further waves of COVID-19. SN - 1471-227X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/33781229/The_effect_of_COVID_19_on_emergency_medical_service_call_volumes_and_patient_acuity:_a_cross_sectional_study_in_Niagara_Ontario_ L2 - https://bmcemergmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12873-021-00431-5 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -