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Polk Fire Chief asks for limited use of 911, says system is under strain

“If you can avoid using the 9-1-1 system, this is a good time to do that."
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Posted at 11:49 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 11:49:06-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla.  — Polk County Fire Chief Robert Weech is asking residents to limit 911 calls to the most serious of emergencies.

“If you can avoid using the 9-1-1 system, this is a good time to do that,” Polk Fire Chief Robert Weech said. “The system is under strain. Certainly, if you have an emergency, stroke, heart attack or if you have an accident, certainly call 911. But if you have other ways of getting medical care, you need to exhaust those at this time so that we can deal with those bigger emergencies.”

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According to a press release, the Polk Fire Department is one of the busiest in the nation with a normally high volume of patient traffic. Polk Fire typically responds to about 280 calls a day, due this time of the year, according to the release.

Polk Fire says in recent weeks, the department averaged about 340 calls a day and even up to 400.

The increased call volume has caused additional wait times for ambulances to transfer patients to hospitals, as well as a delay in response to certain parts of the county. Polk Fire says its working "diligently" with area hospitals during these challenging times.

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“Right now, while our system is being taxed, we are still holding up and able to provide our normal level of service,” Weech added. “We just ask that, under the circumstances, if it isn’t an absolute emergency to find another way for medical care other than calling 9-1-1.”

Weech's comments come a day after Pasco County Fire Chief Scott Cassin made a similar call for residents to only use 911 when dealing with a true emergency.