COLORADO SPRINGS – More people are dialing 911 in Colorado Springs, and it’s taxing resources across the city.
That’s why the Colorado Springs Fire Department is testing a pilot program to adapt to a rising number of calls. The department has seen a 33 percent increase in call volume since 2008.
It’s a program known as Community Medicine, or CMED, which is funded by community partners.
Lindsey Pastore is one of the paramedics assigned to the unit.
“We need to be innovative in the way that we’re helping people. We want to help everybody in everybody’s emergencies. We just need to figure out the best way to do that,” Pastore said.
The same growth helping the local economy thrive is stretching emergency response units thin, especially around downtown.
CMED is designed to let a two-person squad, including paramedics, respond to minor medical calls rather than involving engine companies, which are designed to handle larger incidents.
“It is our goal to work within the 911 system to find different alternatives. Basically, finding the right resource for the right person,” Pastore said.
The unit is roaming the Nevada corridor, helping cover calls between Station 1 and Station 4. Station 1 leads the department in call volume.
In addition, many of the department’s front-line engines and trucks are past industry standards in age and mileage.
Captain Tom Ruane said the program helps keep some of the extra miles and maintenance off the apparatus, while also giving the firefighters the chance to be more effective on bigger calls.
“If we have a unit that’s dedicated to taking a medical call and dealing with that, it leaves the apparatus that’s dedicated for something else to perform those job functions,” Ruane said.
And by delivering the appropriate response for the call, CMED keeps the engines and trucks available for those big calls.
“Since this program started, 150 times CMED has been able to return us to service and we’ve immediately gone out and taken another call,” Ruane said.
The program is in its second month of the six-month pilot program. After the pilot’s completion, the department said it will reassess and move forward.