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Akron, Ohio

Akron Fire Department Launches Community Paramedicine Program to Reduce Non-Emergency Calls to 911


In-home visitation program called REACH will meet healthcare needs while reducing strain on emergency resources

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 08-27-2019

Akron, Ohio, August 27, 2019 The Akron Fire Department is proud to announce a new community paramedicine program aimed at reducing non-emergency calls to 911. The program, called REACH (Resources, Education, and Advocacy for Community Health), is designed to assist seniors and other underserved populations through in home consultations and preventative care.

The program is aimed at patients who use 911 to receive healthcare or assistance in non-emergency situations, often due to a lack of access to primary care. REACH is an innovative and common sense solution to address those health care needs while also lifting some of the strain on limited EMS resources. Last year, Akron Fire Department EMS responded to 42,483 calls to 911. Of those calls, approximately 9,915 were for non-emergency assistance, including calls for non-injury producing falls, access to medications and food, or transportation to basic medical care.

“While every call to Akron 911 is treated with professionalism, care, and attention, not every call requires an ambulance ride or emergency department visit,” Mayor Dan Horrigan says.  “Responding to non-emergency calls can result in a preventable utilization of EMS time and equipment.  We knew we could serve both patients and the community better by addressing those non-emergency needs in a different way.”

Akron Fire developed the REACH Program to connect patients with alternative solutions through community paramedicine, which is an evolving healthcare model representing the intersection of health care, public health, and public safety.  “By adopting a community paramedicine program, Akron Fire paramedics and EMTs can operate more holistically by connecting patients with primary healthcare services and offering preventive solutions,” Fire Chief Clarence Tucker added.  “REACH conducts in-home visits and provides a combination of pre-EMS intervention, home safety assessments, social services referrals, education, and health care system coordination and navigation.”

Patients enrolled in this program will be visited by AFD paramedics at home for an assessment; and the results will be shared with designated patient care partners. Akron Fire Department is collaborating with various agencies to identify and meet the needs of individuals in the program, including The University of Akron School of Social Work and Summit County Job and Family Services. The REACH program will have the ability to track patients as they progress through individual services to monitor improvements. Partnerships with the local hospitals and other applicable agencies are currently being explored as additional resources for the program.

One initial focus areas for the REACH program will be reducing calls related to in-home falls. Data shows that people who fall one time in their home are more likely to fall again, unless intervention takes place. The program will identify at-risk individuals and arrange for a home consultation. Akron Fire paramedics will assess the patient’s medical conditions, conduct a thorough inspection of the home for fall hazards, and make evidence-based recommendations to reduce further risk of falls, such as installing grab bars, mounting night lights or applying carpet tape.

The Akron Fire Department hopes to expand the REACH program in the future, and is exploring additional collaborative relationships with area agencies seniors and other underserved populations.

If you or a loved one may benefit from an in-home consultation or risk assessment, please contact the Akron Fire REACH program at 330-812-7590 for more information. The REACH phone line is not for urgent medical needs.  Citizens should call 911 immediately if they are experiencing a medical emergency. 

For further information, contact:
Lt. Sierjie Lash
Akron Fire PIO
Phone: 330-217-5115
E-mail: [email protected]

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