Fire and EMS
Oct. 30, 2020
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 28, the Chesterfield County Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) received the national Excellence in Fire-Service Based EMS Award for its Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) program, which has helped optimize the county’s use of emergency response resources. The award is co-sponsored by the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and medical technology company Masimo.
In the years following the Great Recession, Chesterfield EMS call volume grew two to three times higher than the county’s population growth. Chesterfield first responders faced a stark problem, as this annual growth in the call volume of the 9-1-1 system stressed the county’s emergency response capabilities.
In 2014, the Chesterfield Department of Fire and EMS enacted an innovative solution: the creation of the Mobile Integrated Healthcare program that bridged a wide array of county services including Adult Protective Services, the Emergency Communications Center, the Department of Mental Health Support Services, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office and private partners.
The MIH program helps navigate frequent users of the 9-1-1 system to the healthcare service providers best suited to fit their unique needs. Those assisted by the program receive not only immediate assistance, but they are also directed to the resources that can offer continued and future aid without necessitating a call to 9-1-1.
According to Fire Chief Loy Senter, the MIH program has produced tangible results. He estimates that 9-1-1 call volume has been reduced by 2,000 calls per year and that the program has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare costs over the past six years.
However, Dr. Allen Yee, MIH operational medical directory asserted that the benefits of the program extend beyond reducing 9-1-1 call volume—it also helps optimize and individualize the care received by residents confronting issues that range from heart failure and high blood pressure to dementia, substance abuse and more.
Said Yee, “We deal with all kinds of emergencies, and we stay with the patient and make sure that we fulfill the needs that they have – whether it be referrals to Social Services, Mental Health, other private partnerships that we’ve been able to develop – so they don’t need to call 9-1-1, so that we meet all their needs.”
The MIH program has also proven to be an asset in the county’s efforts to combat drug addiction in its communities, as the program has partnered with the Department of Mental Health Support Services to add a peer counselor to its team. Now, the day after first responders assist someone who overdosed on drugs or alcohol, a MIH community paramedic and the peer counselor visit that person to discuss their long-term recovery options.
This year, the success of the MIH program earned the Department of Fire and EMS national recognition, as the department received the 2020 Excellence in Fire-Service Based EMS Award, which was presented at the Wednesday, Oct. 28 Board of Supervisors meeting.
While presenting the award, CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb lauded the success of the MIH program.
“The Excellence in Fire-Service Based EMS Award pays tribute to those fire departments that look at challenges as opportunities, opportunities to make changes to better serve their communities with the highest quality of emergency medical care,” said Webb.
“While many fire departments across the nation have developed paramedicine programs, your department is being recognized for developing a program that brought together a broad network of partners including healthcare providers, social service programs, local businesses, private physicians, area hospitals and government agencies,” Webb continued. “The result is a better level of care for the users of your 9-1-1 system and bringing about a significant reduction in the number of transports to your hospitals and emergency rooms.”
The Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award was originally scheduled to be presented at the 32nd Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington D.C. on April 30, 2020. However, the dinner was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to Chesterfield Fire and EMS, the San Antonio Fire Department also received this award, according to the CFSI, “for developing a program that administers whole blood transfusions to patients suffering hemorrhagic shock while en route to the hospital.”
For more information about the Excellence in Fire-Service Based EMS Award, watch Chesterfield County’s video, “Congressional Fire Service Institute and Masimo Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award.” In addition, visit the CFSI website or read an announcement of the award winners.
To learn more about Chesterfield Fire and EMS, visit the department’s webpage.