Ind. Fire Department Launches Community Paramedicine Program

By: McClathcy Kraig Younts / EMSWORLD

The Rushville Republican, Ind.

Sept. 14—The Rushville Fire Department is announcing the introduction of its community paramedic service. The service will be offered to patients free of charge.

Rachel Clark, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) with the fire department, will be the community paramedic. She is no stranger to the EMS field, as she has served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for 10 years.

“It’s not about treatment,” Clark said. “It’s more about assessment, education and providing resources to people who don’t like or won’t go to the hospital.”

According to the fire department, a community paramedic is a licensed professional that is an important part of a patient’s medical care team. The community paramedic functions in and outside of the hospital to:

  • Focus on successful transition to the home

  • Provide additional care and assessment in the home

  • Decrease trips to the emergency department

  • Assist with both social and medical needs to increase quality of life at home

Clark has access to a variety of health services to ensure the best possible recovery for patients. She will communicate with patient’s physicians about the patient’s health progression following hospital discharge to the home or between, the fire department said.

As a community paramedic Clark provides the following services free of charge:

  • Health assessments following hospital discharge to the home

  • Monitoring and education for chronic diseases

  • A medication routine

  • 12-lead Electrocardiogram

  • Advanced heart failure monitoring

  • Blood draws

The program is a first of its kind in the Rushville community. However, Clark will be limited as far as the kind of care she can provide.

“I’d like to think that one day we (community paramedics) will be doing basic treatments,” Clark said.

Clark found her calling for EMS work after going through training to become an officer for the Indianapolis Police Department. The experience prompted her to take an EMT class and she soon grew to realize her passion.

She said her husband is a paramedic and that her daughter has even undergone EMT courses.

Clark’s first EMT job was with Rush Memorial Hospital. She said she fell in love with the small city while working there.

Throughout her career, Clark has specialized in caring for patients with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Rushville Fire Chief Chuck Jenkins noticed this on Clark’s resume, and he also noticed she’d completed a certified community paramedic program.

Chief Jenkins saw an opportunity for the community. He approached Clark about implementing a community paramedic program in Rushville.

Both Chief Jenkins and Clark decided the area would benefit from having a community paramedic and presented the idea to Rushville’s city council. The city council approved letting the fire department try the program at its meeting on September 4.

Clark received her community paramedic certification through a program offered by Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. She said her training allowed her to achieve a less than 1 percent patient hospital readmission rate when the national rate is above 20 percent.

Clark is the first woman ever to be hired by the fire department. The fire department was established in 1873.

“I absolutely love this little community,” Clark said. “I know the community paramedic program will grow.”

To schedule an appointment with Clark, contact the Rushville Fire Department at (765) 932-3065. The department will put patients in contact with her.

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