From the NY Post:
Swine flu SWAT teams would treat sick 911 callers in their homes -- dialing up doctors for diagnoses and prescriptions -- under a radical new plan being mulled by the city to prevent jammed emergency rooms, The Post has learned.
Officials are contemplating a new protocol that would transfer callers who report influenza-like symptoms to a special hot line manned by light-duty paramedics and a doctor, said a source with knowledge of the talks.
The medics would dispatch either a team of EMTs to evaluate patients in person, or possibly a specialized crew in an ambulette to avoid taking a regular ambulance out of service.
The potential new protocols grew out of city brainstorming sessions on how to handle people with flu symptoms who may not be sick enough to warrant hospitalization, the source said.
The EMTs would assess callers for underlying conditions, respiratory problems or pregnancy -- all high-risk factors for swine flu -- and share their findings over the phone with the medics and doctors.
Based on the information, a doctor would decide if the patient needs to be transported to the nearest emergency room or could be given a prescription for Tamiflu and left to recuperate at home, the source said.
Current FDNY protocols require EMS workers to bring sick 911 callers to hospitals, regardless of the severity of symptoms.