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Flu Outbreak Brings Comm Centers Into Focus

The increase in H1N1 flu infections among Americans has triggered federal and state health officials to declare emergencies, and to lean on local public safety comm centers for intelligence about possible new infections. America’s reliance on emergency rooms makes comm centers a key source of new reports of symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Many citizens have no health insurance and no doctor, and even those with a regular physician may be dialing 911 for medical or hospital assistance. Many comm centers that use an EMS screening protocol have begun asking additional questions of certain callers, including if they have traveled to Mexico, if their fever is higher than 101° F. or if they have respiratory symptoms. Every comm center should have a liaison with health department officials in order to provide first-line information, and to receive advice and assistance on handling incoming calls. Available resources:

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