District will no longer guarantee ambulance rides for nonserious patients

Under a change taking effect Friday, D.C. residents who call 911 no longer will be guaranteed an ambulance ride to hospitals if responding medics and a nurse determine their ailments are minor, D.C. Fire and EMS Department officials said.

Instead, after an assessment by firefighter and EMT crews, patients who are not in serious straits will be put on a phone call with a nurse, who will help them to find care at a clinic or a primary care facility. The medics will remain on scene and talk to the nurse after an agreement on care has been made.

“We’ll dispatch like we normally do. An ambulance or firetruck will show up your door,” Fire Chief Gregory Dean said. “They’ll come in. They’ll talk with you and figure out what’s going on, take your vitals, your blood pressure, your heart rate. The nurse will have your vitals to help make a better decision on the best care for you.”

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