Spring 2014
Snohomish County Fire District 1 has launched a community paramedic program that aims to reduce 911 calls by helping patients who are falling through the cracks of the traditional emergency medical system.

shane2Funded by a two-year grant from the Verdant Health Commission, the program began Jan. 1 and is the first of its kind in the state. Shane Cooper, a paramedic with nearly 25 years in the fire service, was selected for the job.

His caseload includes:
  • Frequent 9-1-1 callers – about 50 people who generated more than 400 calls to 9-1-1 in the last year.
  • Patients who call 9-1-1 more than once in a 24-hour period or more than 30 times over 30 days.
  • Fall patients. As the population ages, these calls are expected to increase. Patients who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again.
  • Patients referred by firefighters.

“The community paramedic bridges a gap between the patients our firefighters see regularly and the community services that already exist to help meet their needs,” explained Capt. Shaughn Maxwell, who helped develop Fire District 1’s program.

Firefighters have long recognized that some patients have complex needs that won’t be resolved by a trip to the hospital, but that’s often their only option. It may address the patient’s immediate medical need, but the underlying problems that led up to the emergency call remain and the patient continues to call 911.

The community paramedic follows up with these at-risk patients with a telephone call or a home visit. Fire District 1 is partnering with more than 50 social services that can provide patients with assistance that is often less costly and more effective in meeting their true needs.

The patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from this approach. Helping patients solve their problems so they no longer need to call 911 allows fire engines and medic units to remain available to respond to other emergency calls. This improves service and enhances response times throughout Fire District 1’s service area, including Edmonds.

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