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For years, emergency response calls in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA) were given the same treatment by ambulances and the fire department, regardless of the type of emergency. A small cut on a teenager’s hand was given the exact same level of concern and attention as someone suffering a heart attack. This is set to change. Calls will now be prioritized based on the level of the emergency.

The change in policy was initiated primarily over budget concerns. Charles Werner, president of the Virginia Fire Chief’s Association told the Virginian-Pilot, “We need to be more effective and efficient.”

The new priority system will enable a Chesapeake dispatcher to review a list to rank the urgency of a call. After that, a supervisor will be able to upgrade or downgrade the call.

Other cities in Hampton Roads have adopted a similar priority system. Virginia Beach and Portsmouth prioritize emergency calls while Norfolk does not.

This new priority system could cut down on the number of car accidents in VA. How? Well, with less emergency vehicles flying through intersections and red lights, there could be a decreased number of car wrecks and injuries involving emergency vehicles. Our firm knows how dangerous these types of accidents can be. We’re representing a client who got seriously injured when an ambulance driver, not on an emergency call, drove through an intersection and slammed into their vehicle.

The new priority policy for emergency response makes sense. Less than a third of all emergency calls in Chesapeake are life-and-death situations and more than half require only basic care. Let’s hope more cities in Hampton Roads, and across VA, consider implementing a similar policy.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.


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