Memphis Fire Department training nurses to help with call volume

Instead of sending an ambulance to every call, nurses will find out more about the patient and figure out a better alternative for them

By EMS1 Staff

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A fire department is training nurses to help with the increasing medical call volume.

WREG reported that the Memphis Fire Department is often left with no ambulances to respond to emergencies because they are being sent to calls that don’t necessarily need an ambulance, according to Lt. Kevin Spratlin.

“Our number one goal is to make sure we always have an ambulance available every time someone’s having a true emergency," Lt. Spratlin said.

Lt. Spratlin said ambulances responded to around 74 calls a day last year for issues such as stomach pain, high blood pressure and mental health.

“What we find in most cases is many people don’t know where to turn,” he said. “The Memphis Fire Department is always there for them. We always show up. We always help them with whatever they’re dealing with that day. We’re a trusted piece of the community.”

In an effort to free up ambulance time, the department is training nurses to take calls if an ambulance is not deemed necessary, and they will find better solutions for them.

“We have built relationships with the clinics around town and we’ll help,” Lt. Spratlin said. “We will get the appointment for that person. We’ll arrange for transportation if necessary. We’ll connect them. We’ll throw a warm hand-off to make sure they’re getting the care they need."

The department is also keeping track of people who call 911 more than three times a week, and instead of sending ambulances to them, healthcare navigator paramedics are sent in an SUV.

“We know they need our help. We just need to find the best help for them and we work hard to find them,” Lt. Spratlin said.

The nurses are expected to be fully trained and in service by the end of the year.


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