Ariz. fire dept. reduces ambulance transports with program

Tucson Collaborative Community Care aims to decrease transports for people with chronic issues by sending a crew of two firefighters, a paramedic and a social worker

By EMS1 Staff

TUCSON, Ariz. — A fire department is working to decrease their growing amount of ambulance transports for repeat callers by implementing a program to treat them with a unique crew.

KGUN9 reported that the Tucson Fire Department’s Tucson Collaborative Community Care, also known as TC3, was created in early 2016 and is proving to be effective in helping with 911 callers who are dealing with issues such as chronic, but manageable, illnesses, homelessness and food insecurity.

“We call them super-utilizers, sometimes a loyal customer,” Captain Brian Thompson said. “We're being overrun, overburdened by the 911 system.”

When responders arrive at the scene of a 911 call and determine someone is a good candidate for TC3, a four-person crew of two firefighters, a paramedic and a social worker are dispatched to the patient’s home instead of using an ambulance to transport them to a hospital.

The crew speaks with the patient about their issues, inspects their home and connects them with the social services they need. Capt. Thompson said that sometimes the crew has even accompanied patients on their doctor visits.

“It’s a twofold mission: helping the individual and reducing the call load,” Capt. Thompson said.

The program has decreased ambulance transports according to a recent audit, which said 10 people who were responsible for 324 ambulance rides last year were only transported 24 times after using TC3.

“This is the wave of the future. If we're going to do things right we have to do this,” Capt. Thompson said.

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