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Contra Costa Residents Urged To Use 911 Only For Emergencies


From Contra Costa Health Services:

To ensure continued timely response to true medical emergencies, Contra Costa Health (CCH) encourages residents to call 911 only if the need for care is truly an emergency.

Contra Costa County’s emergency medical system traditionally serves higher-than-usual numbers of patients this time of year, and this month healthcare providers and the agencies providing emergency ambulance service are especially impacted because of COVID, flu and other respiratory viruses.

Several hospitals in the community are reporting critically high level of patients occupying beds, with more than 1,200 inpatients reported throughout the county as of Friday. Hospital emergency departments are similarly impacted.

Calling 911 for your health emergency is recommended if it involves:
Chest pain, difficulty breathing or a fast (120+ beats per minute) resting heartbeat
Numbness or weakness in any part of the body, seizures, or difficulty speaking
Fainting, unconsciousness, dizziness, sudden severe pain or headache, or confusion
Sudden blindness or vision changes
Heavy bleeding that will not stop with pressure, or broken bones
Choking, drowning or near drowning
Severe burns
Poisoning or drug overdose
Allergic reactions, especially if there is difficulty breathing
Someone making a credible threat to harm themselves or someone else

There are other good reasons to call 911 as well. But to reduce strain on the county’s healthcare system, CCH asks anyone considering whether to seek emergency care if a 911 call is the best way to get the services they need, or if contacting an advice nurse or urgent care might be more appropriate.

When many people seek care through 911 at the same time, it reduces the number of emergency ambulances in circulation, ready to respond when someone in the county needs lifesaving care.

Based on a paramedic’s assessment of a patient’s condition and if the number of available emergency ambulances is very low, the paramedic may suggest a patient visit an urgent care on their own or call an advice nurse.

During the winter virus season, patients visiting emergency departments at hospitals in the county may also need to wait longer depending on circumstances at the time they arrive and the severity of their illness or injury.


  1. The most asinine 911 call I’ve ever read about was the guy that called 911 to ask what time it was. When the dispatcher asked why he’s calling her for the time, he said 911 is the only business that answers the phone. Well, he had a point, but I’d jail him and send him the bill.

    • It takes many, many non-emergency calls to 911 before someone is charged with abuse of the system. What would really help is if people stopped accidentally calling 911 because they butt dialed it or repeatedly pressed a button on their phone that is pre-programmed to dial 911 (looking at you iPhone users). I logged at least a dozen such calls each shift. And the worst is if you accidentally dial 911, realize it, and then hang up without speaking to me because now I have to call you back (which takes me away from answering calls), rather than simply confirming it was a misdial when you accidentally called in and logging it as such.

      • Great input, F911Op, and we’re sorry about that one time we rolled over on our iPhone in our sleep and dialed you up… but you were very nice! Thanks for checking in, it’s good to hear from you folks.

  2. Then there are people that call 911 just to get sent to hospital so they can try and get more narcotics or they need a doctors note so they don’t get fired from their job.

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