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Snohomish County Fire District 1 is just six weeks into Washington state's first Community paramedic program and it is already getting positive results. The two-year program, launched with a grant from Verdant Health, aims to alleviate the burden of non emergency 911 calls by helping frequent callers find helpful social services.

Community Resource Paramedic Shane Cooper, the first and only with his job title so far, has found that seniors are the ones most frequently making the repeat non urgent 911 calls.

Snohomish County Fire District 1 analyzed their most frequent callers and found that in one year, 50 people were responsible for more than 400 non emergency calls.

Cooper's job is to make house calls. He schedules visits and meets with patients in an effort to discover their real needs. In most cases, he finds the patients need to be connected with community resources. Air Force Veteran Victoria Fye is one example. Lost in a complex health care system, she was unaware that she was eligible for services as a veteran. She had called 911 28 times in the past year. While a few of those calls were classified as emergencies, the majority were not. She is grateful for the community paramedic who is helping connect her to resources.

The hours spent on those 400 non emergency calls made by the 50 frequent callers are enough to shut down one fire station for an entire month -- time that could have been spent on real emergencies.

Already, Snohomish County Fire District 1 is seeing positive results, which could result in savings for taxpayers.
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