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In fear of catching COVID-19, people wait days before calling for emergency help

Executive Director of Tidewater EMS council said it sounds like common sense, but if you have a medical emergency, "dial 911."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, people are still having medical emergencies like heart attacks and strokes. 

The problem is, officials said some people are avoiding going to the hospital because they are scared to catch COVID-19.

Executive Director of Tidewater EMS council, David Long, said it’s sounds like common sense, but if you have a medical emergency don’t hesitate to dial 911. 

He said he is concerned people are waiting too long before calling for help.

“One of the things we are hearing from crews, when they are interacting with patients... They have made statements about, 'Yeah this started a day or two ago. This started a couple of days ago,'" Long explained. "'Why didn’t you call?' They say, 'I didn’t want to burden the system, I didn’t want to be exposed to the virus.'"

Long said messages from officials urging people to stay home could be delaying people from calling 911 for time-sensitive emergencies. 

He urged not to let fear override the need for immediate care. Long said your condition could worsen if you wait several days to call for help.

“We often refer to things as: time is muscle, time is brain tissue," Long said. "When they delay, all you are potentially doing there is killing off more heart muscle and killing off more brain cells.”

He said don’t be afraid to call 911 if you have an emergency, because dispatchers are trained to help. They are the first point of contact and will figure out the best way for a person to receive care.

“Taking care of you and your immediate medical need is what the healthcare system was designed to do, so don’t be afraid to let us do that,” Long said.

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