Washington County EMS says it's so overwhelmed by non-emergency 9-1-1 calls, and the county is spending $100,000 to fix what it calls a broken system.
"With an increase in call volume, increase in expectation of service, and a decrease in revenue, there becomes a problem,” said Washington County Emergency Medical Services Director Kevin Deramus.
Last year, Washington County responded to at least 5,000 calls, and 1200 of those were frequent flyers. Frequent Flyers are patients that called at least 3 times a year. If one of those calls could be knocked off with this program, it would save taxpayers $800,000 a year according to Washington Co. EMS.
Several paramedics are being trained to use their down time to keep up with patients who frequently call 9-1-1 for minor health problems like headaches or if they just want a ride to the hospital.
Randy Armstrong is enrolled in classes through Blinn College to be certified as an 'Advanced Community Paramedic.'
On top of his paramedic duties, the first 8 hours of his day, he will be driving around stopping in and checking in on people. These paramedics will educate patients on how to properly take their medication, how to keep up with their own disease problem, and what is the proper use of 9-1-1.
Technology will also help.
"If I can get our physician on Facetime in front of you with an iPad that says look you have diabetes and direct them to a family doctor, that may prevent you from going to the ER,” said Deramus.
But, as always, every emergency call will always be responded to by paramedics.
Nine paramedics are enrolled in the class for now which is costing the county $100,000. Washington County EMS says the other option to help with the number of non-emergency calls is expanding personnel with more equipment which would cost upwards of $500,000.