LA Fire Department launches Telemedicine program

The Los Angeles Fire Department announced on Monday the launch of their new Telemedicine program aimed to help people who are mildly ill and to ease the coronavirus load on emergency rooms.

The Telemedicine program was funded by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's innovation fund and has been in the works for approximately a year and a half.

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"What that allows us to do is have doctors on our dispatch floor so when a 911 call comes in, we can transfer that call to a doctor who can do a patient assessment and they’ll use Facetime to look at the patient so they can do a visual assessment as well as ask questions," said Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas.

"This morning I watched it in operation, and we had someone call in who was worried about the symptoms of the coronavirus. They had all the obvious symptoms. So we communicated to that person to go to a testing site tomorrow, we did not have a dispatch. We did not have a threat of contaminating firefighters, contaminating hospital staff. We assisted in reducing capacity at emergency rooms," Terrazas said. "That will become more, and more important as the days continue."

The LAFD's overall emergency call volume has dropped significantly as well, according to Terrazas.