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New community paramedic program provides innovative public health care

New KCFD Community Medical Response Team improves quality of life for residents, reduces costs Nearly eighty percent of all calls to the KCMO Fire Department involve a request for medical service. Many of these calls are from residents with limited access to health care who need help, but not necessarily an ambulance. KCFD has created a community paramedic program, formally known as the Community Medical Response Team (CMRT), to respond to those calls.

This innovative approach is backed up by hard data and will save taxpayer money.

“We have identified more than 100 residents who call us for service multiple times each year because they have nowhere else to turn,” said Fire Chief Donna Lake. “While each call for service costs around $2000, it’s really about advocating for people and connecting them to long-term solutions. As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, yes, we want to reduce costs, but more importantly, it’s about improving the quality of life for these residents.”

The team has three paramedics who drive regular cars, not ambulances. In this expanded role, these experienced paramedics can take the time to provide healthcare and preventive services to underserved populations in the community.

“Once the personnel were selected, they received training and certification at the state level as Community Paramedics including completing several clinical hours,” said Chief Lake.

The Community Medical Response Team focuses on being both provider and advocate for those whose access to health care is limited by finances, transportation, mobility issues, or the lack of a stable address.

For example, one elderly resident with visual impairments continually fell down the stairs at his apartment and KCFD frequently was called for assistance. The CMRT, with assistance of Jewish Vocational services, helped him move to a new apartment that did not have stairs. That helped him avoid injuries and it also reduced calls to 911.

The team also works in the community to help with COVID-19 vaccinations at both Morningstar Baptist Church and the Shepherd Center, which includes visiting homebound clients.

The CMRT receives referrals for potential clients from field crews working on ambulances and firetrucks.

To interview Chief Lake or the community paramedics, please contact Jason Spreitzer at 816-585-4747.


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