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New program hopes to build community/paramedic relationships and increase efficiency of 911 emergency response system

July 5, 2013

Albuquerque- Mayor Richard J. Berry has asked the Fire Department to begin to study and evaluate a new and innovative approach to medical care. The new program could provide a better Emergency Response System that is more efficient and affordable for the community. Today the Mayor and Fire Chief James Breen announced the that a potential new program called, “Community Paramedicine”, will be studied by the city.

Several cities across the United States have chosen this modern and progressive approach to paramedicine in an effort to focus on true emergency calls and better utilization of their resources. If the study finds that this program to be a promising solution for Albuquerque, it would augment and expand the EMS services already being provided through the Albuquerque Fire Department. The role of a community paramedic is to take proactive steps to prevent unnecessary 911 responses and ER visits, this would enable first responders to better care for those most in need. For example, rather than an engine and rescue unit being deployed to a patient who has a record of persistently calling and complaining of non-emergency issues, a highly qualified firefighter who has been trained as a Community Paramedic would be scheduled to respond in a single automobile type unit; saving valuable manpower and resources for emergency calls.

The community paramedic would bring a higher level of knowledge, and medical training to the prospective patient's home. These Paramedics could provide patient assessments, immunizations, social services, patient care plan compliance, and many other referral services. They could form a critical link that has not existed before in Albuquerque, between the patient and the primary care physician; thus creating an opportunity for the city to recoup some of the costs for services provided through billing private or Government health insurance plans.

"Over the coming months we will be studying and exploring an innovative public safety opportunity, that has the potential to provide better service for those most vulnerable while establishing relationships with the medical community to better utilize our EMS services," said Mayor Berry.

"While potentially improving our efficiency, this program has the potential to better connect community medical resources, improve relationships within the community, and improve patient outcomes." said Chief Breen

The program study will also examine  the necessary collaboration between local entities like the University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque Ambulance Services and the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association.

The study is expected to take six months at a minimum.

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