Statewide Press Release • January 7, 2022

Colorado reactivates Crisis Standards of Care for Emergency Medical Services

Colorado Department of Health and Environment

The Chief Medical Officer at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment reactivated Crisis Standards of Care for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). With many EMS staff out ill and with high demands for patient transports, guidance to the EMS providers on how to best use their services is needed at this time. The last time the state activated Crisis Standards of Care for Emergency Medical Services was April 2020.

Emergency Medical Services are an essential part of the continuum of health care that often starts with a call to emergency dispatch (e.g., 9-1-1). The crisis standards for Emergency Medical Services provide guidance for call centers, dispatch centers, and emergency medical service agencies, and responders regarding how to:

  • Interact with potentially infectious patients.
  • Maximize care for multiple patients with limited staff and emergency vehicles.
  • Determine what kind of treatment to provide, such as whether and where a patient should be transported for further care, if deemed necessary.

At this time, the state has not activated crisis standards of care for hospital and acute care facilities, crisis standards of care for out of hospital care providers, crisis standards of care for specialty patient populations, or crisis standards of care for personal protective equipment.

“If you are sick and think you need emergency care, please continue to use 9-1-1 or seek emergency care as you would normally. Your health in an emergency is always a priority. The dispatchers and emergency medical service experts will help you determine if you need immediate care. They may also advise you to seek care through a normal doctor’s appointment, if your case can wait,” said Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer. “With increasing demands on hospitals and EMS, we need to make sure we can provide care to anyone who needs it immediately. Crisis standards of care help us to do that. We also need every Coloradan over the age of 5+ to get vaccinated so we can lessen the strain on our healthcare system and protect everyone.”

In November, the state of Colorado reactivated crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems. Crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems allows hospitals to implement staffing solutions to meet the increasing medical needs of their communities.

Crisis Standards of Care are protocols that help health care providers and systems decide how to deliver the best care possible under the extraordinary circumstances of a disaster or public health emergency. These protocols may be used when there are not enough resources to provide the usual standard of care to people who need it. The goal of crisis standards of care is to extend care to as many patients as possible and save as many lives as possible.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.