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Ambulances, Hospitals for Real Medical Emergencies Only, Fresno Officials Say



Fresno hospitals re-Introduce assess and refer policy after an increase in respiratory illnessess. (Shutterstock)
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Don’t visit a hospital emergency room or call for an ambulance unless you have a real medical emergency.

That was the word Thursday from Fresno County public health officials.

However, if someone is showing any of the signs below, they should call 911 or visit the nearest hospital immediately: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Gray or blue color to tongue, lips, or skin
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
The reason for the announcement is that Valley hospitals are inundated with patients with respiratory illnesses and circulating viruses. These include Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the flu,  and COVID-19.

To ensure that there is room for these patients, the Fresno County Department of Public Health has gone to its “assess and refer policy.”

How Will Assess and Refer Affect Emergency Services?

FCDPH has used this policy several times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The county has implemented the assess and refer policy to slow down the surge of non-emergency patients at hospital emergency departments,” said EMS Director Dan Lynch in a news release Thursday.

“Ambulances will respond and assess patients. If it is determined that the patient is stable, and does not require emergency transport, the ambulance personnel will provide an appropriate alternate recommendation and not transport the patient by ambulance.”

Health officials recommend that individuals with non-emergency conditions visit their primary care physician’s office, an urgent care clinic, or use telehealth through their insurance carrier.

Take Preventive Measures Against Respiratory Illnesses

Local officials say it’s imperative that people take the proper steps to stop the spread of respiratory viruses.

Here’s a list from FCDPH on what you can do to protect yourself and others:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and influenza to reduce the risk of severe illness and death. People who test positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to seek treatment. For a list of local Test-To-Treat locations, visit
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wear a mask in crowded indoor public places.
  • Wash your hands frequently, with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow, arm, or disposable tissue.

Stay Up to Date on Local Flu and Covid-19 Cases

To stay informed on local updates for respiratory illnesses and flu cases, visit

For information on local COVID-19 vaccine sites and testing locations, visit

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at