From the Spokesman-Review:
Of the 10 calls for service that Engine 2 may run each day, eight of them are for repeat or recurring calls for medical services, usually by people who either lack medical insurance coverage or have minimal coverage and slip through the system. Instead of visiting a doctor for noncritical concerns, the patients call 911, and the fire department responds.
“Everybody has the same problem: People are losing their health care in droves and they use us as their medical provider,” said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.
To combat the problem, the department created the Community Assistance Response Team, or CARES Team, a group of grant-funded social work students from Eastern Washington University who help “regular customers” of the fire department access social services and basic needs.
Since the partnership began in 2008, the department has seen a 77 percent decrease in recurring medical calls, statistics showed this month, Schaeffer said.
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