Latvia's ambulance service switches into emergency mode

As influenza, Covid-19, and other upper respiratory diseases spread, the number of calls received by the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD) continues to increase. Therefore, the NMPD is switching to an emergency regime as of December 28, the service said.

NMPD emergency phone dispatchers receive more than 2,000 calls every day, of which 300-400 are linked to colds, increased temperatures, runny noses, headaches and other symptoms of acute respiratory virus. This poses high risks for people in really critical situations, not being able to promptly call and receive emergency help.

“We must do everything we can to relieve the emergency phone from inappropriate calls and focus teams on critical calls,” NMPD Director Liene Cipule said in a statement to the media.

The service priority is calls related to serious injuries, severe bleeding, unconsciousness, respiratory arrest, infarction, and other life-threatening situations.

The emergency regime of the service means that when the staff receives lower-priority calls, they refer the caller to their family doctor's practice or ask them to go to the nearest medical facility, as well as inform them about the waiting time of up to 4 hours while teams deal with higher-priority calls. 

Lower priority calls are often associated with situations such as colds and respiratory diseases, chronically high blood pressure, injuries to hands and legs, where a person can move and get to the nearest medical institution, etc. If the brigade goes out to assist in such situations and finds that the situation was not urgent, a fee for the service (EUR 74.35) may also be charged.

"We ask not to ignore your illness or sudden health problem, but, on the contrary, always to contact your doctor's practice on the telephone as quickly as possible, and to go to the nearest medical institution in cases of lighter injuries with the help of relatives or neighbors. The first call should rarely be to the emergency service," Cipule said.


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