The EMS Today Show: Community Care Units Activated to Battle COVID-19

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Join JEMS Editor-Emeritus A.J. Heightman for an interview with innovative frontline personnel from five Sacramento, California-area fire agencies and hospital facilities that mobilized volunteers in a week to staff four special assignment Community Care Response Units, at the request of the Sacramento County (CA) Department of Public Health, who had a need and reached out to the fire agencies and the region’s Hospital Council to provide the necessary resources.

A.J. talks with the crews at their units during a break in their busy day. 

Deputized by the Sacramento County Department of Public Health as critically needed medical caregivers under a special emergency disaster declaration that affords the new program with legal exemption for the staff’s medical activities, the four Community Care Response Units are staffed by firefighter/paramedics, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who are volunteering their time to the program.  

Podcast: Skilled Nursing Facilities and the Pandemic

The five fire agencies involved include:

  1. Sacramento Metropolitan (Metro) Fire District
  2. Sacramento City Fire Department
  3. Folsom Fire Department
  4. Sacramento Airport Fire Department
  5. Cosumnes Fire Department

These five fire agencies and the Sacramento Regional Fire Emergency Communications Center serve 1.6 million citizens with over 220,000 calls for service annually. 

Since the program went into service on April 1st, it has impacted close to 300 patients during a 9 a.m.-5 p.m. workday Monday through Friday — focusing almost 100% on Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), and Memory Care Units that have been shown to be Hotspots for COVID-19 infection. 

To date, the program’s testing has shown that close to 25% of patients that were asymptomatic, but tested, have been shown to be COVID-19 positive.

A.J. also talks with the two dynamic individuals spearheading the new system, Dr. Kevin Mackey and Fire Captain/Paramedic/Physician Assistant Scott Perryman from Sacramento Metro Fire. 

Perryman had been working on the framework for a Community Care Response Unit for the past two years and stepped up and fast-tracked the program with assistance from Dr. Kevin Mackey, Fire Service Medical Director for the Sacramento Area Fire Agencies.

With over 30 years of experience in prehospital care, Dr. Mackey is a board-certified EMS physician on the staff of Kaiser South Sacramento Hospital and Medical Director for Sacramento Regional Fire Services.

He is the principle investigator for a Community Paramedicine project focusing on paramedic assessment and clearance of behavioral health patients in the field. He is also the past president of the Emergency Medical Directors Association of California, a team physician for Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 7 and serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the National Registry of EMTs.

For more information on this special Mobile Health Care — Community Care Unit System, contact:

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