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KGUN 9 Tucson News

When to call 911 vs. when to go to urgent care

By Brooke Chau,


Senior nursing students at the University of Arizona are joining forces with local first responders and emergency rooms in hopes to give patients the care they deserve. Jamie Teves, Faith Cleary, Emily Compton, and Grace Barilla found that the Southern Arizona community needed more information about when to dial 911.

The cohort research worked closely with the Marana Fire Department about emergency calls versus non-emergency calls.

They found that there was an immense amount of people calling 911 for non-emergency reasons which made it more difficult and added even more time for those who had actual emergencies.

“If you go to the emergency room for a non-emergency reason, you're waiting those long hours when you could possibly get into an urgent care in 30 minutes or less depending on where you are," said said Grace Barilla, UArizona Nursing Student. "It's a huge issue, especially when you already have places that are low on resources, money, budget cuts or low staffing."

The students found that 30% of ER visits are non-emergency situations. Plus, non-emergency visits cost up to $4.4 billion annually.

Both the nursing students and the Marana Fire Department want to encourage people who are not in life threatening situations to use other local resources like urgent care, that way it eases up the local emergency rooms and will hopefully allow wait times to let up.

“Backups in the hospital can cause issues with patient safety. It's this huge butterfly effect of things that could be solved by going to another resource," said Barilla.

The students say that as of right now, the average wait time for the emergency room in Pima County is 3.5 hours. The students posted their research on Tik Tok, and it gained over 300,000 views in the first few hours with viewers weighing in on the topic.

Brooke Chau is a reporter for KGUN 9 . She was a part of Fresno State's newscast, Fresno State Focus and interned at KFSN-ABC30 in Fresno, CA before coming to KGUN 9. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brooke by emailing or by connecting on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter .

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