Emergency calls are early indicators of ICU bed requirement during the COVID-19 epidemic
Although the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds is crucial during the COVID-19 epidemic caring for the most critically ill infected patients, there is no recognized early indicator to anticipate ICU bed requirements. Methods: In the Ile-de-France region, from February 20 to May 5, 2020, emergency medical service (EMS) calls and the response provided (ambulances) together the percentage of positive reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, general practitioner (GP)
... ractitioner (GP) and emergency department (ED) visits, and hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients were recorded daily and compared to the number of COVID-19 ICU patients. Correlation curve analysis was performed to determine the best correlation coefficient (R), depending on the number of days the indicator has been shifted. A delay ≥7 days was considered as an early alert, and a delay ≥14 days a very early alert. Findings: EMS calls, percentage of positive RT-PCR tests, ambulances used, ED and GP visits of COVID-19 patients were strongly associated with COVID-19 ICU patients with an anticipation delay of 23, 15, 14, 13, and 12 days respectively. Hospitalization did not anticipate ICU bed requirement. Interpretation: The daily number of COVID19-related telephone calls received by the EMS and corresponding dispatch ambulances, and the proportion of positive RT-PCR tests were the earliest indicators of the number of COVID19 patients requiring ICU care during the epidemic crisis in the Ile-de-France region, rapidly followed by ED and GP visits. This information may help health authorities to anticipate a future epidemic, including a second wave of COVID19 or decide additional social measures. Funding: Only institutional funding was provided.