People call their Fire Department for help with medical emergencies every day – in fact, if you add up the calls received in the Federal Way, Auburn and Des Moines area last year people called 911 nearly 30,000 times – and 80% of those calls were for medical issues.
Not all of those 911 calls for help are what you might call a “lights and sirens” type of emergency. An example would be that a person just doesn’t have the strength in their legs to stand up and is literally stuck in a chair or has chronic pain that is flaring up or another minor medical problem and don’t know where to turn for help. The rise in this type of call has led the fire service industry to look at innovative ways to fulfill our mission of helping people that don’t require resources that are designed for life and death emergencies.
On Feb. 1, South King Fire & Rescue in cooperation with Valley Regional Fire Authority (the fire department in the Auburn area) and King County Emergency Medical Services, launched a pilot program to address these numerous non-emergency calls that fire departments receive each day.
The program is called the Community Medical Technician response vehicle or CMT for short.
What is a CMT car?
It is an SUV with two firefighter/EMT’s and full complement of medical equipment that will respond to non-emergency 911 calls for help. Firefighters will respond to calls that are not time critical and be able to spend more time with a patient than a fire engine usually can. The CMT crew will provide needed medical attention and also be able to get patients connected to social services or make contact with healthcare providers.
Funding for the 2 year pilot project is provided through a grant from King County covering 50% of the cost with South King Fire & Rescue and the Valley Regional Fire Authority splitting the remainder. Our objectives is to reduce the call volume for the fire engines, leaving them in service for more acute emergencies and provide additional services to folks that need help which doesn’t fall into the traditional definition of a 911 emergency.
Look for CMT36 on the road from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week.