Shanika Parker of Puget Sound Fire’s FD Cares, a community illness and injury prevention program. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Shanika Parker of Puget Sound Fire’s FD Cares, a community illness and injury prevention program. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Kent-based Puget Sound Fire expands community assistance programs

Social worker to join nurse on FD Cares response team; Safe Station to offer substance abuse treatment

Kent-based Puget Sound Fire has expanded one community assistant program and started a new one.

The Fire Department Community Assistance, Referrals and Education Services program, referred to as FD Cares, is a fire agency-based community injury and illness prevention program.

The unit previously had been staffed with one firefighter and one registered nurse. The new setup will feature a registered nurse and a licensed social worker, according to a Sept. 28 Puget Sound Fire announcement.

The nurses provide comprehensive services, including medical assistance, discussing medications and interactions, assessing fall risks and developing long-term care plans, according to Puget Sound Fire.

“Historically, this part of the program has been very successful and helped a lot of people,” according to a Puget Sound Fire statement. “By incorporating a licensed social worker into the FD Cares unit, we are able to better address issues in mental and behavioral health, drug and alcohol addiction, and food and housing insecurities. A licensed social worker will have the skills necessary to assist these patients.”

The Medic One Foundation is funding a one-year pilot program to add social workers to Puget Sound Fire’s mobile integrated health program. The cost of the program is $184,000, according to Puget Sound Fire spokesperson Pat Pawlak.

FD Cares has been developed so that fire departments may assist community members with issues before an issue becomes an emergency.

Puget Sound Fire started its program in 2013. At full strength, the program has 17 employees, Pawlak said.

Safe Station program

Puget Sound Fire also has added a new Safe Station program.

This program will deliver ‘customer-friendly’ substance abuse prevention and treatment. This service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Many individuals want to seek assistance but are often reluctant to do so,” according to a Puget Sound Fire statement. “Statistics indicate that individuals feel more comfortable reaching out to fire departments and their services for assistance.”

A person seeking help just has to call 911 and Puget Sound Fire will respond.

The Washington State Health Care Authority provided a grant of $333,000 to fund the program, Pawlak said.

Both programs are available to residents in the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority’s service area, including the cities of Covington, Kent, Maple Valley, SeaTac and King County Fire Districts 37 and 43.

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