FD testing new response model for low-acuity patients

The vehicle will respond to calls for nonlife-threatening injuries such as minor falls, cuts and bites

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A new response model and vehicle is being deployed to help handle low-acuity calls in Arizona.

Low Acuity 151, launched by the Glendale Fire Department in mid-September, will reduce the use of other emergency vehicles for non-life threatening calls such as minor falls, cuts and bites, reported AZ Central.

The truck will be staffed by a paramedic captain and a firefighter-EMT. The crew works 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday and will typically handle eight to 10 calls a day.

In 2014, the department responded to 37,000 calls, including 9,000 that were classified as nonemergency.

The city council and department will reassess the program after a year to see if they will add more units.

"(Having more vehicles) would be nice," Ron Hart, a spokesman for the department, said. "We're going to take a look at the data after a year and see how many (vehicles) they'd need."

Fire officials said the service is similar to a mobile urgent care, except it can’t diagnose and treat patients or write prescriptions, according to the report. Bringing a doctor on board is one option that has been discussed.

"We always try to find any ways to transport them before calling an ambulance," paramedic Roman Barriga said. "Some of it dabbles in the community paramedicine, where we're going to assess people and see how they're doing with their health.

A lot of our hospitals are getting backed up and overwhelmed with the patients — they can't handle them anymore. Meanwhile, our crews out there are just really getting worked. If we can take a portion of that away from other trucks and leave them in service to run the more higher-emergency calls that are required for a four-person crew, then that will help them out."

Barriga said the low-acuity response vehicles are gaining popularity and categorized them as the future of emergency medical response.

"If we have better options for our citizens out there, that's just going to be better all-around for them and for us," he said. "I think we're making as big a difference as we can."

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