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Front Page - Friday, December 20, 2019

Chattanooga Fire Department touts success of new program

Seeks funding from city to continue momentum

The Chattanooga Fire Department has implemented new methods to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

A new program called CFD Connect is already loosening the strain on emergency services and getting citizens the help they need while keeping them from routinely calling 911.

CFD Connect was established in partnership with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s social work program. The program places two master’s level social work interns with firefighters.

The program aims to ensure there are services in place for high users of non-emergency calls (like medical assist and lift assist calls) in order to decrease their dependence on 911.

The costs associated with these calls have been adding up. In 2018, one person placed 144 calls, with an estimated price tag of $18,720 for the responding crew and fire truck. In fiscal 2019, the CPD responded to 1,468 of these calls.

Cpt. Skyler Phillips, local EMS coordinator, reached out to multiple fire departments in the U.S. and created a Chattanooga model for addressing the issue.

The interns go on home visits based on call data and firefighter concern and connect citizens to the proper resources, such as their insurance companies and other case managers.

CFD Connect has resulted in a 63% decrease in non-emergency calls associated with 13 clients.

Each intern is placed under Phillips’ supervision and works 16 hours a week. The CFD would like to hire an additional trainer to do EMS work and increase the number of interns.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in these calls in recent years, and we want to find a solution rather than put a Band-Aid on it,” Fire Chief Phil Hyman says.

Source: Chattanooga Fire Department