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Guilford Metro 911 adds Ebola virus screening questions

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Guilford Metro 911 dispatchers updated their medical calling software to include a checklist of screening questions for the Ebola virus.

Interim Director Melanie Neal said the initial update to the existing Emergency Medical Dispatch Protocol system came in on Aug. 27 with another update Thursday morning.

During a medical call the dispatcher may now ask a series of questions that ask the caller if he or she has traveled out of the country. If the caller answers a country in Africa, more questions follow relating to the symptoms they are experiencing and anything that the caller has touched including exotic animals or protective gear.

"We've always had the tool itself but they just recently updated the tool to include questions about, 'Have you traveled outside of the country in the last 21 days? Have you been in contact with any African animals?' or anything like that," Neal said. "The information that we obtain through our call screening is then added to the call itself so that [Guilford EMS] have a visual and they can see every answer that the person gave us about that particular patient."

Neal said this is the third time their software checklist has been altered relating to a particular health threat; first was the swine flu and second the bird flu.

So far there have been no 911 calls to Guilford Metro concerning the Ebola virus.

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