By Makenzie O'Keefe

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Fire departments across Colorado are receiving more COVID-19-related calls. People are calling with mild or moderate symptoms, while others are calling to ask for medical advice or information related to the virus.

West Metro Fire Rescue said right now, about 70% of their call are medical.

“Our numbers aren’t showing a drastic increase, but were definitely seeing more of what we would call COVID-19 calls,” explained Jasen Mcconaghy, Lt. Paramedic at West Metro Fire Rescue.

(credit: CBS)

As more COVID-19 cases are expected to surface in our communities in the coming weeks, first responders are suiting up for the job.

“We’re going to have Tyveck suites,” explained Mcconaghy. “We’re going to have goggles on. We’re going to have masks on.”

With all the concerns surrounding the pandemic, many people are worried and wondering if and when they should call 911. Crews say to do so, only in the case of a medical emergency.

“We’re looking for things like cardiac arrest, chest pains, strokes, seizures, diabetes, altered mental status, shortness of breath,” Mcconaghy said.

West Metro Fire said if you are experiencing symptoms to the flu or what could be COVID-19, its best to limit exposure and stay home.

“If you have mild or moderate symptoms, the best place for you is to self-quarantine at home and call your primary care physician,” he said.

The concern is as more people are transported to the hospital for mild symptoms, it could stress the healthcare system.

Mcconaghy said despite the concerns and anxiety many have, do not call 911 to ask for medical advice, or other questions about the virus.

“We don’t have any information to give as far as COVID-19 goes, nor do we have any testing capabilities for COVID-19,” he explained. “And the number to call for that is actually 211.”

(credit: Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment)

Calling 211 will help to answer any question the community may have about the virus or area resources.

But if you are in need of immediate medical attention, West Metro Fire said they’re ready to help.

“We get a lot of people calling and not sure what to do,” Mcconaghy said. “Obviously if you have signs and symptoms we want you to call 911, that’s what we are here for.”

Makenzie O'Keefe

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