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West Metro Fire

By Ronda Scholting

When June Jones woke up one morning in October, the 98-year-old wasn’t feeling quite herself. She was in pain and having some trouble getting around her Lakewood home. Out of concern, Jones’ granddaughter called 9-1-1.

What happened next was certainly unexpected. Instead of being taken to the emergency room, June got the attention and medical treatment she needed – in the comfort of her own living room – through a “house call” by West Metro Fire Rescue’s ARM Car; or, advanced resource medic.

“She had quite a bit of anxiety about going to the emergency room, and wondering if she did, when she would be able to come home,” said Erin Jones, the granddaughter. “This was an amazing experience that my grandmother could stay in her home.”

The ARM Car program is a public-private partnership, between West Metro Fire Rescue and Dispatch Health – designed to treat non-emergency patients in place – saving on health care costs and avoiding a trip to the hospital. The car is staffed with a West Metro advanced practice paramedic and either a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner from Dispatch Health.

“The ARM Car is all about providing the most appropriate treatment we can in the most efficient manner,” said Kimel Brent, West Metro advanced practice paramedic. “Not everyone who calls 9-1-1 needs to go to the emergency room. For those that don’t, we can treat them where they are – at home, or at work.”

With the staff’s expertise and the resources on board, the ARM Car is like urgent care on wheels. The program debuted in May 2018.

“I’ve been in health care for 15 years, first as a paramedic, now as a PA,” said Erin Johnson, Dispatch Health physician assistant. “And, I’ve worked in a lot of different environments. This is the first time that I feel like I’m appreciated – truly appreciated – and people are really gracious and excited about the service.”

For the patients who’ve been treated by the ARM Car staff, most have been incredulous when they’re told they don’t have to go to the hospital.

“It’s just not what they’re expecting – and it’s baffling, but also a big relief,” said Brent. “This type of care is really beneficial for older patients, especially those that might have Alzheimer’s. Being treated at home is much more calming and better for those patients than what they experience in an emergency room.”

For June Jones, the opportunity to stay at home for treatment was “…very much better…” than the emergency room trip she was worried about.

“The impact that we’ve made in patient’s lives I think speaks for itself,” said Brent. “She got all the treatment and personal attention that she would have had in the emergency room.”

Ronda Scholting is the West Metro Fire Rescue Communications/Media Relations Specialist.