Holmes County EMS was recently approved to take part in the Florida Department of Health Hart HELPS project. HELPS is an acronym for Helping Evolve Locally Provided Services project.
Over the course of the next year, EMS will be tracking which calls they have responded to that refuse transport or do not need transport to the hospital, along with what the calls are for and if there are specific addresses where this could be a common occurrence. These calls include but are not limited to lift assists or falls.
The building of statistical data is an effort to help find resources available for those who have non-emergent issues or who are in need of simple medical care. These types of aid can be helpful to the Community Paramedicine Program which is a model of community-based health care in which paramedics work outside their normal emergency response and transport roles.
The state has set aside $50,000 for each of the 34 rural EMS departments in the state to fund the project.
“We are required to have an off-duty medic(s) cover shifts of 16 hours weekly which will meet the 64-hour requirement of the program for the year,” Holmes County EMS Director Steve Connell said.
The $50,000 in funds will cover the pay of those working those shifts, and no funds are required to come out of county coffers.
While this program is taking place nationwide under different names in each state, there are two counties in the region taking part in HELPS, Baker and Walton.
Connell says he believes the project is a fact finding mission which will help do the bridgework for many other important services that can be provided to those that do not need emergent transport to a hospital.
“This project will help us identify what the issues are for various citizens,” Connell said. “Which in turn will help us find resources to help them. That could be transportation, Council on Aging, Meals on Wheels or whatever they might need. I believe the information gathered through this project will branch out and affect many different areas of community paramedicine and beyond.”
The HELPS project is anticipated to begin in June in Holmes County.