Nurse program cuts nonemergent ambulance dispatches in Florida

A nurse-led program implemented in Volusia County, Fla., is helping redirect 911 calls for non-emergency situations and reduce ambulance dispatches, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The E-911 Redirect Nurse Triage Program, which includes seven part-time nurses from Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Health and Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth and one full-time nurse, helps determine if an ambulance is necessary when people call 911. The nurses have been trained as 911 operators and work alongside the full-time county 911 operators.

If a 911 operator determines a call doesn't constitute an emergency, they will redirect the call to one of the nurses in the triage program. The nurse will then help the caller by offering home care instructions or referring them to a doctor. If the caller requests an ambulance, or if the nurse later determines an ambulance is necessary, it will be dispatched.

"Appropriately redirecting the mode of transport and destination of non-emergent patients to more appropriate facilities improves the availability of our clinicians and ambulances for those time-and life-critical emergencies and reduces unnecessary congestion in our emergency departments," Joe Pozzo, Volusia County’s director of public protection told the News-Journal.

The program began Dec. 9, and it redirected 20 percent of 911 calls in its first week. It runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If the program continues to be successful, Volusia County will add more nurses and increase the hours during which the program operates.

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