Dispatch guidelines for Wuhan coronavirus call screening released

The guidelines urge early notification of first responders if patients have possible symptoms of the virus


By Laura French

SALT LAKE CITY — The Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Committee of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) have released guidelines for dispatchers to screen callers for potential exposure to the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

The standard-setting organization, which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is urging dispatchers to notify first responders of callers with potential symptoms of the virus so that proper precautions can be taken, such as the use of personal protective equipment and isolation of the patient to prevent the infection of others.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, speaks Tuesday Jan. 21, 2020, at a news conference in Shoreline, Wash., following the announcement that a man in Washington state is the first known person in the United States to catch a new type of coronavirus that officials believe originated in China. A U.S.-based international standard-setting agency for emergency dispatchers has released guidelines for screening callers for potential exposure to the virus. (AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, speaks Tuesday Jan. 21, 2020, at a news conference in Shoreline, Wash., following the announcement that a man in Washington state is the first known person in the United States to catch a new type of coronavirus that officials believe originated in China. A U.S.-based international standard-setting agency for emergency dispatchers has released guidelines for screening callers for potential exposure to the virus. (AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson)

The IAED also instructed dispatch centers that follow its medical protocols to use its Emerging Infection Disease Surveillance Tool for calls that report a sick person or a person with breathing problems.

Dispatch agencies are also told to work with their local medical control authority to implement enhanced screening of emergency medical calls and identify possible infections.

The novel coronavirus has reportedly killed at least 13 people and has spread from Wuhan to 13 Chinese provinces as well as Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the United States. The first case of the virus in the United States was announced Tuesday. The patient is reportedly a Washington state resident who returned to the U.S. after traveling to China. 

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