Utilization of emergency medical services during an extended public safety power shutoff in marin county, California – october 27-29, 2019
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EMS records county-wide were used to describe total EMS responses, by age and disposition, and specific causes. Daily frequencies and proportions were compared between October 27-29 (days one-three), when the largest numbers of meters were de-energized, and daily two-year averages using chi-squared and Welch’s T-tests.
Responses nearly doubled on days one (n=94) and two (n=99) compared to two-year averages (n=49). The average visitor age was higher on days one to three (range 68-69) as compared to two-year averages (61 years;p<0.005). Responses due to respiratory-related events (range 5-9% vs. 2%) and medical-device issues (range 0-5% vs. <1%) were elevated during PSPS (p>0.05). Environmental-related injuries were elevated during day two (10% vs. 2%;p=0.09). Though non-significant, individuals were more likely to refuse transport to a hospital during PSPS (range 7-8% vs. 3%; p>0.05). Fall-related events were not elevated during PSPS (p>0.05; range 15-25% vs. 21%).
These results indicate that PSPS conditions may lead to increased EMS usage, particularly among older adults, and that more patients may have refused transport to a hospital during PSPS. Decisions to initiate power shutoffs should be carefully weighed with other public health risks, and multi-disciplinary collaborations are needed to reach medically-vulnerable residents affected by these outages.
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