North Carolina firefighters will begin testing a new program that will let them leave certain emergency calls as long as the patient says it's all right and other emergency services are en route.
The purpose of Charlotte's pilot program is to allow firefighters to respond to more serious emergencies if their current call is "in a stable place," Fire Chief Reginald Johnson told WSOC-TV. Charlotte's Medical Control Board, which establishes emergency response protocols, unanimously approved the new policy, and the city will be the first in the state to use such a program when it will begin next year.
"You call 9-1-1, and you're going to get a red truck coming pretty fast in a short time frame,” Johnson told WSOC. “But there are non-emergency calls—foot injuries, back injuries—where the person is in a stable place at home but still wants to be transported to the emergency room. That could be one of those type of calls."
Under the program, firefighters can ask a patient if they could respond to another emergency if the individual has been checked to be physically and mentally fine. The patient also must be in a safe location and have access to a phone.
The policy, however, does not apply to certain cases, according to WSOC. Some of those instances include patients who are:
- younger than 18
- complaining of chest pains
- having a seizure
- showing signs of an allergic reaction
Firefighters also wouldn't respond to other calls if patients didn't agree or asked them to stay.
Jonathan Studnek, the deputy director for MEDIC, the Charlotte area's EMS agency, told WSOC that his organization and the Charlotte Fire Department have already discussed the program with the North Carolina Office of EMS, which supports the test run.