The Flagler County Community Paramedicine program has received national, state, and regional accolades for utilizing best practices and providing the highest quality services to its residents.
It has received awards this year from the National Association of Counties (NACo) in May, the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) in November, and most recently from the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) – which the county will accept in January at the council’s annual luncheon.
“Our Community Paramedicine program is a perfect example of one of our services that is both great and small,” said County Administrator Heidi Petito. “Fortunately, there are not tens of thousands of people who need to utilize the program, but it is invaluable for the few hundred who do.”
It started in April 2018 as a way to reach out to the residents who frequently called 9-1-1 because they had no other option to address non-emergency medical needs. In its first year, calls for ambulance transportation to the hospital for these individuals decreased.
“As a road paramedic, I only had the opportunity to spend a couple of minutes with patients during transports to the hospital,” said Community Paramedic Caryn Prather. “I have enough time to really find out about what is happening in people’s lives. I make sure they understand what they are supposed to do with their medicines, and that they take them. I also have an opportunity to find out if there is food in the home and if there is power.”
Rob Errett, who work very closely with Prather as part of her team of paramedics, was recently named Flagler County’s second community paramedic. Together, along with Firefighter-Paramedic Jason Feldman, the team forged forward with a plan to vaccinate medically-homebound seniors for COVID-19. This service improved their overall well-being as many were also suffering from severe isolation a year into the pandemic.
The team is now providing boosters to those same medically-homebound seniors.
“This is a truly fabulous program,” said Fire Rescue Chief Mike Tucker. “We have the right people serving as our community paramedics. They are very passionate about what they do, and very well received by our residents.”