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Colorado Springs Fire Department launches Community Response Medicine

New system expected to improve response times
CMED unit
Posted at 8:47 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 08:07:30-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a new kind of team helping with 9-1-1 medical calls in Colorado Springs. The Community Response Medicine, or CMED, is now part of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

There are four units with a Paramedic and EMT. The CMED crews will work during the highest demand times of the day.

"This will be somewhat of a shift for our community," said Colorado Springs Fire Department, Deputy Chief Jayme McConnellogue.

The new system creates a tiered response starting with the call to 9-1-1. The CMED unit is an option for calls that are clearly not life threatening. This team can triage, treat, send someone to a hospital, and offer guidance on other options. "Sometimes the best answer for the patient isn't the old response of everyone gets an ambulance and goes straight to the ER for evaluation," said Emergency Department Physician and CSFD Medical Advisor, Dr. Matt Angelidis.

The CMED crews work as a complement to sworn firefighter/paramedics stationed in fire houses. A portion of medical calls shift to the CMed crews with the new program. They will often take the lead on calls in the category of less acute. "High acuity are the ones like cardiac arrest and shootings and traffic accidents, those type of things. Low acuity are things like a sprained ankle or somebody who has maybe flu like symptoms," said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal.

The CMED support is intended to improve availability of firehouse crews who respond to more than medicals. Once a crew arrives to any type of 9-1-1 dispatch, they have to finish the call even if there are other emergencies happening. "In the meantime, missing a cardiac arrest in their district or missing a structure fire.” Chief Royal offers the examples of calls for help that would then be shifted to crews in other districts who respond from further away.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department currently responds to around 70 thousand calls a year. Between 60 to 70 percent are medicals. The numbers continue to rise with the rapid growth of Colorado Springs. "We understand that we cannot run this system into the future with a one size fits all program," said Emergency Department physician and CSFD Medical Director, Dr. Stein Bronsky. CMED is part of the evolution of emergency response.