HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) — Paramedics in Livingston County could soon be making house calls. Instead of rushing people to the emergency room, they would provide care inside someones home.
It's a solution that officials say can save money and emergency resources.
Justin Farr says it can be a thankless job.
“When we show up, it's usually on people’s worst day,” Farr said.
For the past 17 years, Farr has been one of the first people to arrive at the scene of a crisis. He says being a paramedic is a calling that recently fewer people have been answering.
“We were graduating on average about 2,800 paramedics a year. The last three years, I think the average is 250 a year,” Farr said.
Earlier this year, an official with the Michigan Association of Ambulances Services says the state was short 1,000 EMT's and paramedics. One way Livingston County is hoping to retain some of its first responders is through community paramedics.
“The best way to put it in layman's terms is to deliver medicine to the home. It's almost like making a house call," said David Feldpausch, the director of emergency medical services in Livingston County.
Feldpausch says paramedics would be able to assist people by checking their vitals, preforming ultrasounds, draw blood and even help with telehealth or fixing equipment. The goal is to prevent people from taking unnecessary trips to the hospital to free up resources and save people money.
“A community paramedic would definitely be cheaper than an ambulance transport,” Huron Valley Ambulance Vice President Karl Rock said.
HVA oversees a community paramedics program in Washenaw County. Rock says the average ride in an ambulance could run you $500, and utilizing a community paramedic is significantly cheaper.
“That way you would also be leaving ambulances free for other emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, car crashes and things like that,” Rock said.
Another perk: Community paramedics have a less strenuous job. So, people like Farr could stay on the job longer and help feel the void of workers.
If everything goes as planned, community paramedics could start in Livingston County by the end of the year.