Community takes action to reduce non-emergency 911 calls

Community takes action to reduce non-emergency 911 calls

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Paramedics in Cincinnati and across Ohio will soon be allowed to provide home health care to people who frequently call for an ambulance.

Governor Kasich signed an amendment to the budget to allow paramedics across Ohio to make home health care visits.

The change could lead to cost savings for many fire departments, according to officials.

It's called community paramedicine and the idea is to make home health care visits to people who frequently call 911 when it's not an actual emergency.

Officials said frequent fliers are described as individuals who call 911 early and often for non-emergencies.

Those calls tie up resources and can costs thousands of dollars per run especially if the patient is admitted to the emergency room.

It's been tried in cities across the country and the benefits can be significant.

Assistant fire chief of Dallas, TX  Norman Seals was in Cincinnati Friday and talked with local paramedics about the concept.

"We've had a great deal of success at increasing the patient's independence while reducing their dependence on 911 and on the hospital emergency room system," stated Seals.

The idea is to connect people who call 911 often with the services they need.

"We actually identify our frequent utilizers of the system, go into their home, identify needs that they may have. Everything from living conditions to do they have food to eat, do they have a primary care physician, what medical history etc...," he claimed.

According to Seals, the program has saved Dallas 2 million dollars and reduced frequent flier calls by 80 percent.

Cincinnati fire chief Richard Braun said frequent non-emergency calls can be costly to the state.

"It's an issue where it ties up our medics and our engine companies a lot ....and there are thousands of runs a year with this and, again, it's very frustrating for our medics because the people do need assistance because that's why they called 911, but they're not life threatening."

An amendment to the new state budget now allows paramedics across Ohio to make home health visits.

Assistant fire chief Cedric Robinson said it could make a huge difference here in Cincinnati.

"It has the opportunity to be a real big deal for us. It's a different way for us to help the community and also generate revenue for the city of Cincinnati," said Robinson.

Cincinnati has been studying the concept for 2 years and hopes to have a pilot project by the end of the year.

Cincinnati fire officials said the goal is to have the project pay for itself and maybe generate some income.

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