Colorado reactivates Crisis Standards of Care for emergency medical services


Linsey Jones, a medical assistant working at a drive-up COVID-19 testing clinic, wears an N95 mask, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle. People using the facility, which is being run by the Pierce County Dept. of Emergency Management, faced waits of several hours Tuesday for testing. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

STATEWIDE — The Chief Medical Officer at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment reactivated Crisis Standards of Care for Emergency Medical Services. Guidance to the EMS providers on how to best use their services is needed at this time. The last time the state activated Crisis Standards of Care for Emergency Medical Services was April of 2020. 

These crisis standards provide guidance for call centers, dispatch centers, and emergency medical service agencies, and responders regarding how to:

  • Interact with potentially infectious patients.
  • Maximize care for multiple patients with limited staff and emergency vehicles. 
  • Determine what kind of treatment to provide, such as whether and where a patient should be transported for further care, if deemed necessary. 

The state has not activated crisis standards of care for hospital and acute care facilities, crisis standards of care for out of hospital care providers, crisis standards of care for specialty patient populations or crisis standards of care for personal protective equipment. 

“If you are sick and think you need emergency care, please continue to use 9-1-1 or seek emergency care as you would normally. Your health in an emergency is always a priority,” said Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer. “With increasing demands on hospitals and EMS, we need to make sure we can provide care to anyone who needs it immediately. We also need every Coloradan over the age of 5+ to get vaccinated so we can lessen the strain on our healthcare system and protect everyone.”

In November, the state of Colorado reactivated crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems. Crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems allows hospitals to implement staffing solutions to meet the increasing medical needs of their communities. 

Crisis Standards of Care are protocols that help health care providers and systems decide how to deliver the best care possible under the extraordinary circumstances of a disaster or public health emergency. The goal of the standards is to extend care to as many patients as possible and save as many lives as possible. 

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