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Virginia Beach EMS officials said they've seen a 20 percent drop in 911 calls

On this National EMS week, the head of the department wants people to know his team is there to help you - even during the coronavirus pandemic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Bruce Nedelka is the Division Chief for the Virginia Beach EMS department. 

"Each and every day we have our people out there, day in and day out, 24-7," he said. 

However, when he got the statistics on the drop in calls, he "was not really surprised."

Nedelka said those calls have followed the national trend that started with the coronavirus outbreak. According to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, there's been a 34 percent drop in 911 calls in the United States.

"Anecdotally, it may be because people are, have been, reluctant to call a physician or go to a hospital or an emergency room," he explained.

Yet, locally, Nedelka said they've seen the number of cardiac arrests up from the normal numbers by 11 percent.

"Possibly caused them to have more serious issues when they actually go to the hospital or call 911,” said Nedelka.

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To ease the minds of people in the community, Nedelka said they've provided personal protective equipment and guidelines to protect first responders and patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

EMS even has paramedic supervisors screening calls, for the most appropriate response. 

"It's an incredible work of teamwork between our dispatchers in our field units: paramedics, police, and fire," he said.

As more people start to go out, Nedelka said he expects 911 calls to rise again, but on this National EMS week, he wants people to know they are there to help you, when you need it most.

"I want to be sure that people know that if they are not feeling well, if they are really sick," he said, "They should call 911."

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