Recently Grand Junction Fire Department piloted two new programs: one to hire and train new EMTs, and another using a CMU social work intern to address the needs of patients that frequently use EMS.
Last year GJFD opened its first ever recruitment for candidates who held no certifications. According to Deputy Chief Gus Hendricks, “The goal was to hire good people, and then give them the skills and certifications to be successful first responders.” Over 300 people competed for the seven new positions. The EMT recruits were hired and began coursework on January 13th. Over the course of four weeks, the new recruits learned basic EMT skills like patient assessments, the treatment of different medical emergencies and traumatic events, and patient care strategies. After receiving their initial certification, they then spent two months training with GJFD crews in mentorships to refine their skills and demonstrate their abilities to work within Mesa County EMS protocols including medication dosages, treatments, and basic evaluations of patient conditions.
The new cadre will only work on ambulances for the first year of their career to refine their skills. After that time, they will complete the 19-week GJFD Fire Academy in the next year alongside other firefighter recruits to staff the new stations. Once they complete the fire academy, they then have another year of mentorship- this time in fireground and rescue skills before they are considered proficient firefighters.
In the past year, GJFD hired its first ever social work intern from Colorado Mesa University (CMU). The intern was tasked with developing an auxiliary program to address issues with social determinants of health for patients that frequently call EMS. This program is called Community Assistance Referral and Education (CARES). By the end of the year, the CARES program, under the supervision of CMU social work program and GJFD, was able to see and refer 16 patients to non-EMS resources in the valley to meet their needs. Typically, patients met with the social work intern and a GJFD EMT two to three times to evaluate their needs, set goals, make referrals, and follow-up on their progress. In all, there was an 80% reduction in EMS calls from those patients after the GJFD CARES intervention.
The CMU intern developed the infrastructure for the program including protecting patient information, intake, and documentation. He was then able to use the approved protocols to manage patient cases. Sometimes they needed secure access to food while others needed help with medication schedules or fall-prevention measures.
For more information contact the Community Outreach Office at (970)549-5858 or by e-mail at GJFirePIO@gjcity.org.