Community Paramedicine Program

UK College of Social Work collaboration with the Lexington Fire Department

In 2017, in response to increasing utilization of 9-1-1 in Lexington, Kentucky, the Community Paramedicine Program (CPP) was initiated. Implementation involved obtaining approval from the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) and the Lexington- Fayette Urban County Government Council (Straub, 2018). The Lexington Fire Department was awarded a one-year pilot grant through the United States Fire Administration Assistance to create CPP. This proposed program was to offer a new level of assistance to individuals who frequently call 9-1-1, or high utilizers of healthcare services, for assistance with chronic concerns. The program was designed to help improve efficiency, and decrease the growing demand for emergency medical services in the community. Further, the aim of the program was to help those in need reduce their utilization of 9-1-1 and other emergency services, so that  emergency responders and vehicles could be available for more life-threatening emergencies.

The decision to pursue this type of program came after Lexington officials reviewed data that revealed the Lexington Fire Department’s 11 ambulances responded to 48,238 medical calls in 2017 (Straub, 2018). Further review of the data, showed these calls originated from 266 specific people who accounted for 8.9% of the total calls (Straub, 2018). The run volume for the fire departments had grown an average of 7.5% each year since 2014 (Straub, 2018).  For many of these 266 individuals, individuals had mobility issues, limited housing, chronic health problems, mental health problems, or transportation issues.

This model of system alignment is relatively new in that it was first introduced in the early 2000’s. Most programs are designed to increase access to primary and preventive care, provide wellness interventions within the medical home model, decrease emergency department utilization, and save healthcare dollars.  The Lexington CPP pilot program was initiated to help with these issues, and ultimately decrease the number of non-life threatening calls to the local firefighters and emergency medicine services. 

CPP utilizes a multidisciplinary team model of fire department paramedics, social workers, and law enforcement officers. This program is unique and being built to serve the needs of the Lexington community. The multidisciplinary model allows the program to find needed resources for the vulnerable population being served by the team after thorough assessment. The diverse training of CPP team members facilitates varying lens for professionals to examine a high utilizer of emergency services. These various lens allows the team to utilize more tools and perspectives to assess and serve the client. Further, these individuals are frequently engaged from their home environments. The advantage to home visits is to assess and screen the client for why they are calling so frequently, and what essential resources are may be lacking. CPP has the advantage of seeing the client frequently allowing the review of what has changed for the client, and what other resources that can address the client’s issues.

In fall 2018, CPP accepted their first UK Masters of Social Work field placement students. Dr. Gibson serves as the field instructor for field placement students at this site.

Straub, S. (2018, February 28). Mayor Jim Gray, Lexington unveils Community Paramedicine program [Newsgroup comment]. Retrieved from