After sharing plans with the Lacey City Council, members of the Lacy Fire District are eagerly waiting to see if a new emergency response plan will be approved. The plan pertains to the handling of less serious medical calls and if implemented, it would consist of a unique pairing of medical professionals.
According to the plan, medical calls made to 911 of a less serious nature would no longer be handled by paramedics, firefighters, and private ambulance companies. Instead, the response team would consist of as few as two highly trained and qualified individuals. The new emergency response model presented by Chief Steve Brooks with Lacey Fire District 3 has been carefully studied by people within the district.
The goal is to alleviate the increasing demand for the district’s services. Ultimately, this would make responses more cost-effective but also more efficient. By devoting fewer resources to calls of a less serious nature, the district would deal with major emergencies such as fires and heart attacks.
Lacey and its surrounding area have experienced significant growth. As such, the volume of emergency calls to 911 have skyrocketed. As stated by Brooks, over the past few years the district has witnessed an 8 to 10 percent increase annually. Already at the end of the first quarter for this year, calls are up 9 percent compared to the same time last year.
Currently, both major and minor emergency calls go out to paramedics, firefighters, and private ambulance companies, which typically results in someone going to the hospital. The problem is that some of these calls are for minor or non-emergency issues that should be treated by a primary healthcare provider.
As an alternative and in looking at a plan currently being used in Arizona, Brooks pointed out that this new system would consist of a firefighter-paramedic being paired with a physician assistance or nurse practitioner. After being dispatched to less serious medical calls, these professionals would determine the next course of action, whether providing medical assistance on scene with a doctor’s approval or taking the patient to an urgent care center.
This new response system would also deal with mental health patients by pairing a firefighter-paramedic with a behavioral health specialist. Because these types of calls are relatively common in the downtown area of Olympia, the Olympia Fire Department has shown interest in this new medical response system. If all goes as planned, a version of the program would roll out sometime in the third quarter of this year.