Area 911 Centers protect first responders from COVID-19

Area 911 Centers protect first responders from COVID-19
(Source: FOX19 NOW)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s 911 center is taking several precautions to keep people and first responders safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

New Hanover County’s 911 Center rolled out a COVID-19 tool on March 13 to screen people suffering from a breathing problem, chest pains, headache. It includes questions about travel, exposure and symptoms.

If the call meets certain criteria, fire and law enforcement response are canceled to limit exposure and only EMS proceeds to the scene.

The first ten days the line was active, the 911 center processed 273 calls using the tool.

According to the New Hanover County’s communications and outreach coordinator, the 911 center has split shifts between their primary site and their backup center to ensure workers are sitting six feet apart. The idea is that if someone becomes symptomatic, a smaller portion of the staff will be quarantined rather than a full shift. The 911 centers are cleaned and disinfected regularly and employees undergo health checks at the beginning of each shift.

New Hanover County and emergency officials across the Cape Fear are all pleading that people only use 911 in case of a medical emergency.

The Columbus County 911 center says they’ve been fielding countless questions about the governor’s stay at home order and reached out to media Monday afternoon to remind people that 911 is strictly for emergencies, not for information.

In an effort to keep 911 lines open for emergencies, several local governments have set up special phone numbers for people to call with their coronavirus concerns:

  • Brunswick County has set up its own hotline — 910-253-2339 — for residents where county nurses will available to answer questions and provide information about the virus. The phone line will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice. Brunswick County residents can also email with any questions. Emails sent over the weekend will be answered on the next business day.
  • New Hanover County residents can call 910-798-6800 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice. The center is meant for all questions and concerns people might have pertaining to the virus.
  • Bladen County has activated two hotlines for people having questions about the coronavirus - 910-872-6291 and 910-872-6292. The hotlines numbers are staffed between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
  • Residents in North Carolina who have questions and concerns about coronavirus may also call the state’s Coronavirus Line at 1-866-462-3821 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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