Program aims to help, cut down on non-emergency 911 callers

- When an EMS call comes in, paramedics are ready for just about anything and Manatee County officials hope to keep it that way by cutting down on non-emergency calls to 911.

"People typically think EMS responds to blood and guts, but that's not the case most times," said Paul DiCiccio.

Deputy Chief of Clinical Affairs, Paul DiCiccio said last year, Manatee County EMS had 46,000 calls. Only 2,500 were emergency transports.

Most were small things like people falling or people with tooth aches. In some cases, people call three times in one day.

"We would go out, lift them up, put them in a chair. We'd leave two hours later. We would come back and do the same thing," said DiCiccio.

To combat the problem, Manatee County formed a Community Paramedic division. Its employees will do well fare checks on repeat callers.

"If someone is calling 911 for a dental pain, we are aligning them with a dentist. Or if someone is calling because they can't fill their prescriptions, then we find a pharmacy that can maybe do some medication assistance," said Interim Manager Jimmy Crutchfield.

They will also work to assess patient's homes and evaluate what they need.

"We could be taping down floor mats, painting a step yellow so they can see it. They need a ramp in front of their house... we help them get it. That's what this program is aimed at," said DiCiccio.

It is also a program paramedics hope will allow them to give the best care during emergency situations.

"It is preventive and it's helping, versus waiting for the call to come in for help," said DiCiccio. 

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