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Innovative In Emergency Medicine

Excerpt from Justin's July Newsletter

The City's residents have long enjoyed highly trained and qualified personnel within the Alexandria Fire Department protecting the health and safety of residents and property.

In the fall of 2014, the City's then new Fire Chief came to the Council with an entirely new model for cross-trained firefighter/medics.

At that point, the department was one of the few in the area to use single-role paramedics staffing ambulances. Since the beginning of the conversion process, we have worked to hire new dual-mode firefighter/medics, while cross-training existing personnel.

The goal of this conversion was to improve service to the residents of the City by getting paramedics on the scene of incidents more quickly and improving the efficiency and versatility of the department's workforce.

In December of 2015, the 24/7, four-member Basic Life Support (BLS) engine company became operational at Fire Station 210 on Eisenhower Avenue.

Today we have 33 remaining single-role providers (There were 65 when the City began the conversion.). We have another 29 new dual-mode providers in various stages of training.

This is not the only area where the Fire Department is working to provide better services at greater efficiency. The department responds to 22,000 calls a year. Over 70% of those calls are for medical issues, not for fires. Many of those medical calls are not true emergencies. Given that emergency medical services are funded by ambulance fees, and those fees are only charged if a patient is transported, these calls can strain limited resources.

To address this strain and improve the medical outcomes for our residents, the Fire Department has explored Mobile Integrated Healthcare/Community Paramedicine. While this can mean many things, the City's initial foray is implementing new ways to reduce recurring calls due to falls by residents in their home.

The data shows that a small number of residents in the City received multiple visits from the Fire Department for help after a fall in the home. Beginning today, a full-time community paramedic will be visiting residents in their homes to assess and help eliminate fall risks. Ideally this effort will reduce calls for service and dangerous injuries.

This is only the City's initial effort in this area of Mobile Integrated Healthcare. The department is continuing to explore other ways to improve outcomes and efficiency in our emergency medical services.

I am excited to see the innovation and I'm hopeful that it continues to result in a safer and healthier Alexandria.

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