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November 2015
 
Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department tests and adopts innovative approaches to patient care and transportation

For the firefighters who serve and protect Chandler residents, the profession is changing fast, and in many areas our local heroes are at the forefront leading the charge. One very noticeable change happened last year, when the Chandler Fire Department became the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical (CFHM) Department, a name more descriptive of the services provided by this ever-evolving organization. On an ongoing basis, the look of the department is also changing; fire engines, ladder trucks and other CFHM apparatus are transitioning from white to red as new vehicles replace older units.

Beyond the new name and the cosmetic changes, perhaps the most significant shifts are those coinciding with the ever changing healthcare system, and the resulting new service delivery model adopted by the CFHM Department which places a greater emphasis on resource allocation, data collection, cost containment and patient choice.

Here is a brief overview of some of the innovative programs recently implemented by CFHM.
  • Electronic Reporting & Data Collection
Chandler Fire, Health & Medical has made smart investments in emerging technologies, such as tablets and other mobile devices, for collecting data and maintaining an electronic patient care record (EPCR). The department is using these systems to improve treatment protocols and collect information that can be used to review and evaluate the quality and timeliness of patient care.
  • Treat and Refer
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel can treat a patient with a non-emergency or low-risk condition and, instead of transporting them via ambulance to an emergency room, provide care and transportation options that could result in significant cost savings for the patient and their family. The treatment options could include using an urgent care clinic or following up with their primary care physician, and the transportation options could include providing their own means of transport to a care center.
  • Ambulance Dispatch
In the past, ambulances were automatically dispatched along with CFHM units on the majority of 911 calls. Once dispatched, ambulances were used to transport patients on approximately 60 percent of the calls. Under the new ambulance dispatch protocol, CFHM crews arrive on the scene, evaluate the patient, and request an ambulance once the need for transportation is confirmed. This has resulted in ambulances being sent on fewer calls, but the ones that are dispatched are used at the higher rate of 80 percent. This is not only a more efficient and cost-effective system, it also decreases the number of emergency vehicles driving City streets under Code 3 conditions, with lights and sirens, which create a much safer environment for citizens and public safety personnel.
  • Low-Acuity Response
For nearly a year, the CFHM Department has been using a pair of two-person crews in smaller, specially designed trucks, to cover less urgent 9-1-1 calls. These low-acuity response units operate between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., when emergency call volumes are highest. Each crew is staffed with either one paramedic and one emergency medical technician (EMT) certified firefighter, or two paramedics. By using these two-person medical crews for less critical calls, the standard four-person Engine and Ladder crews are available to respond to more significant emergencies that may arise.

These are just a few of the ways the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department continues to look for opportunities to be innovative in its approach to meeting the community’s future healthcare challenges.

For learn more about the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department, please call 480-782-2120 or go online to www.chandleraz.gov/fire.