OPCD Elevates Pandemic Triage Level to 1 and Implements Protocol to Triage Calls Relating to COVID-19 Symptoms

Contact: Chelsea Porché
Public Engagement Manager
[email protected]


OPCD Elevates Agency’s Pandemic Triage Level to Level 1 and
Activates Protocol to Triage Calls Relating to COVID-19 Symptoms

NEW ORLEANS (August 2, 2021) – The Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD), in conjunction with the OPCD Medical Director and Director of EMS, Dr. Emily Nichols, and the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch, has issued Emergency Directive 21-01, elevating the agency’s Pandemic Triage Level to Level 1 (Low Triage Phase). Elevation to Pandemic Level 1 activates Protocol 36, which allows for more efficient triaging of calls for emergency services relating to potential COVID-19 symptoms.

“It hurts my heart having to issue this emergency directive today,” said OPCD Executive Director, Tyrell Morris. “From the point that the vaccine became available, Mayor Cantrell, city officials, and leadership from all public safety agencies within the City of New Orleans have been encouraging everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so. Now, unfortunately, we find ourselves facing an altogether avoidable threat to our health and safety when public safety partners are still regrouping from our last battle with COVID-19.”

“We have decided to implement Protocol 36 in an attempt to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 between New Orleans residents, visitors and first responders,” continued Morris. “OPCD will continue doing everything in our power to help the residents and visitors of New Orleans during this pandemic, but we also need everyone to understand that vaccinations are our way out of this pandemic. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated before further action needs to be taken.”

As was the case when OPCD activated Protocol 36 in March 2020, the current activation establishes specific guidelines and procedures for medical emergency calls to OPCD. Included in these guidelines is the use of certified emergency medical dispatchers (EMD) to process all medical emergency calls for service, ensuring such calls are properly triaged while also providing responding public safety agencies an opportunity to adjust response plans and resource allocation, as needed.

Should the EMD receive an emergency call where the main complaint relates to COVID-19 symptoms, Protocol 36 will continue to be followed by the EMD and the caller will be placed into one of four triage response levels, as defined by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch, designed to ensure first responders are able to respond to calls for service efficiently and effectively, while also maintaining an optimal level of situational awareness without becoming overloaded by a high influx of calls for service.

“Having certified emergency medical dispatchers helps triage the most critical 9-1-1 calls, getting our ambulances to the right place,” states Director of New Orleans EMS, Dr. Emily Nichols. “Although we anticipate some relief with this new directive, we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We owe this to our community.”

Emergency Directive 21-01 and Protocol 36 went into effect at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 2, 2021, and will remain in place until rescinded by the issuing authority.

About New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (www.nola.gov/ems)
New Orleans Medical Emergency Services is dedicated to providing the highest quality pre-hospital emergency care to individuals living in and visiting New Orleans.
As public servants, EMS provides time-sensitive, medically-sound and respectful, compassionate delivery of this pre-hospital health care.

About the Orleans Parish Communication District (www.OPCDLA.gov)
Formed in 1982, the Orleans Parish Communication District is the PSAP for all emergency communications via 9-1-1, and non-emergency communications via 3-1-1, within Orleans Parish.  The agency employs over 150 individuals and provides emergency medical dispatch, emergency fire dispatch, and emergency police dispatch for the millions of annual visitors and residents of the City of New Orleans.  OPCD is a member of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

The Mission of OPCD is to get the Right People to the Right Place at the Right TimeBetter than Anybody Else in the World.