City announces new program to help frequent 911 callers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The city of Lexington is hoping to decrease the number of people who frequently call 911 through a new pilot program announced Wednesday.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and the Lexington Fire Department unveiled the Community Paramedicine Program, calling it a more comprehensive approach to the caring for those who frequently call 911 for assistance with chronic concerns, such as mobility issues or transportation.

According to data from the city, the fire department’s 11 ambulances responded to 48,238 medical calls in 2017, with 266 people accounting for 8.9% of those calls. Medical run volume for the department has grown an average of 7.5% each year for the last three years.

“Traditionally, our role as firefighters is very reactive. We receive a call for help, and respond by starting patient care and transporting to a hospital, at which point our job is done,” said Fire Chief Kristin Chilton. “Community Paramedicine allows us to become more proactive. By investing time in learning more about patients and their problems, we are able to provide better long-term solutions and follow-up care to ensure all their needs are being met.”

Under the program, firefighters will do home visits, education, and individual assessments to see if there were underlying problems they can help solve.

“If we dig a little deeper and treat the root problems, many patients would enjoy a new level of independence, and a better quality of life.” Gray said. “At the same time, we hope this program will help us improve efficiency. It could level off the growing demand for emergency medical services, ensuring emergency vehicles are available for life-threatening emergencies.”

Two Lexington firefighters will manage the pilot program. The grant pays for their salaries and the additional training they need to perform new responsibilities, according to the city.

A $252,210 federal grant, plus $25,221 in local funds will fund the pilot project through late 2018.

The program will be evaluated after the pilot ends to decide whether to continue it.

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