In conjunction with the City of Port Townsend, East Jefferson Fire Rescue (EJFR) applied for and received an alternative response grant. The grant is funding a new program called FIRE CARES. This program will be modeled on the successful CARES program at the Poulsbo Fire Department and others throughout the region.
EJFR launched FIRE CARES on January 1st, 2023.
The Fire CARES unit is staffed by a full time firefighter/EMT or firefighter/paramedic employed by EJFR, partnered with a full time prevention/intervention specialist employed by Believe in Recovery. The team also has access to a substance use disorder professionals who will assist with calls related to drug and alcohol use.
FIRE CARES is primarily a follow-up, intervention service focused on referring and providing appropriate services but will also serve as a specialty unit responding to behavioral health related crisis calls and behavioral health related needs. The team will also provide surge capacity to initial BH/MH responses and other high acuity EMS incidents, such as CPR. The CARES model can provide ongoing case management, care connection, and facilitate appropriate transport. It’s an approach that focuses on BH/MH and social/lifestyle interventions over time, which reduces the need for emergency services. The focus is on education and referral services, ensuring community members in need are gaining access to the most appropriate resources. CARES Program co-responders frequently conduct field-based follow-up to ensure community members are connected to adequate support and resources following a crisis or when identified as high frequency utilizers of the Emergency Medical and Law Enforcement systems.