Posted: Oct 29, 2012 10:55 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances @kristv.com
Updated: Oct 30, 2012 8:09 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI - People who call 911 often are informally referred to as "frequent flyers." Many of them call dozens of times a month. The city is now looking at implementing a program that would provide these people more specialized attention getting them the help they need without putting them in an ambulance.
Corpus Christi 911 operators handle more than 34,000 emergency calls a year. What may be surprising is that 2,000 of those calls come from just 10 people. Two of them are Rose Compos and her sister who live together on Kirkwood Drive.
Rose Compos said, "My sister calls them a lot because she falls down and it's so much weight she can't pick herself up."
Along with her sister's health issues, Rose says her arthritis makes it hard to care for herself and while she knows she doesn't always need an ambulance, she doesn't know where else to call.
"They could help somebody that's dying or whatever," Compos said, "If you keep calling, you're going to keep them from the real emergencies."
That is why Corpus Christi Battalion Fire Chief Mickey Flores recently traveled to Fort Worth to check out a program that could help people like the sisters on Kirkwood. They would get the help without having to call 911.
"They need some attention, medical attention, but it's not something that needs to be done via ambulance at a hospital," said Mickey Flores.
The Fort Worth program was started by MedStar, Emergency Medical Services. It uses a team of specially trained paramedics who teach these patients how to take care of themselves. They are shown everything from how to take their medicine to how to check their own blood pressure.
By doing that, Fort Worth has saved $1.6 million in EMS charges and $7.4 million in emergency room charges. It also cut down calls for these "frequent flyers" by over 80% freeing up valuable department resources.
The Fort Worth program has been successfully implemented in dozens of cities across the country. It's a success local EMS providers now hope to duplicate right here in the Coastal Bend. This program is something Rose says she and her sister could definitely benefit from.
The Corpus Christi Fire Department says it hopes to get the program up and running within the next 6 months. The department has also partnered with Del Mar College to train the folks who will help run the Community Paramedic Program.
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