Kent offers new fire department medical response pilot program

The Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority started on Nov. 5 to provide a new type of non-emergency medical assistance that will increase the level of care for residents.

  • Thursday, November 5, 2015 4:40pm

A new pilot program of the Kent Fire Department will send a firefighter and a nurse in a van to non-emergency medical 911 calls. Courtesy Photo

The Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority started on Nov. 5 to provide a new type of non-emergency medical assistance that will increase the level of care for residents.

The Fire Department Community Assistance, Referral, and Education Services (FDCARES) division was developed several years ago to provide better non-emergency medical assistance to the community and connect residents with the health care and social services they need, according to a Kent Fire Department media release.

A new development in FDCARES is an 18-month pilot program which places a registered nurse with a firefighter on a cost effective vehicle to respond 24/7 to 911 calls that are determined to be “non-emergent” by Valley Communications, the 911 call receiving center for South King County.

In addition, the nurse/firefighter team will also provide proactive home visits to residents who previously had relied on the 911 system for their primary medical care. The goal of the program is to build healthier communities by delivering the right care, at the right place, at the right time, for the right cost.

FDCARES already has a vehicle staffed by two firefighters which responds to similar types of calls, but will be able to provide a higher level of care by replacing one of the firefighters with a registered nurse. A total of four nurses are part of this pilot program, which is funded by grants and community partnerships.

There are two major advantages to this pilot program. First, by providing the skills of a nurse on the FDCARES vehicle, fire officials can reduce the need for non-emergent transportation to a hospital and treatment in an emergency room. The second major advantage of the program is that the FDCARES vehicle can replace a fire engine or aid car for those non-emergent calls, keeping those apparatus available for a medical emergency, fire, or hazardous materials incident.

According to Dr. Cameron Buck, Medical Director at the University of Washington’s Valley Medical Center and the medical program director for the FDCARES program, “I think this has to be an example of how we want our health care system to be successful in the next 5-10 years.”

The pilot program has been possible because of the fire department’s community partners UW Valley Medical Center, Premera Blue Cross, Tri-Med Ambulance, King County Emergency Medical Services and King County Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

For more information, go to or call 253-856-2273.

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