New questions for 911 call-takers to screen for Ebola

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Emergency operators with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office are asking some callers if they have traveled to West Africa and are exhibiting symptoms of Ebola.

The CDC released new guidelines Tuesday, providing EMS agencies with a list of questions to ask people calling 911 for medical reasons.

"We ask about their travel," Major Chad Norvell says. "And that is a key aspect for anyone who may have Ebola, is they have traveled outside the country or they have had contact with anyone who has in the last 21 days."

If the caller has been to West Africa and is showing symptoms such as fever and vomiting, emergency responders will wear protective equipment when they arrive at the scene. Harris County is also implementing this protocol.

Some residents say the protocol is excessive.

"It's pretty ridiculous," Emma Deleon says. "Don't scare people about it, you know."

Others feel the questions are justified.

"If you do have a fever, it could be the flu, it could be anything," Keena Kareem says. "But it's good for you to think about it as well as them to tell you the information you need."

Major Norvell says operators will only ask about travel history if the caller describes physical symptoms consistent with those of Ebola.

"With flu season coming up, there will certainly be a lot more scares, and there shouldn't be," Norvell says. "If they haven't traveled to one of the affected countries, then they're not going to have Ebola."
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