Harrisonburg Fire Department to launch Community Paramedicine Program in 2023

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:17 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg Fire Department will soon be launching a first-of-its-kind program in the area meant to help connect underserved community members with services.

The Community Paramedicine Program will staff individuals to serve as ‘navigators’ for residents in the city who may not know where to go for help.

Paramedics will help to connect those residents with community services that focus on mental and physical health and reaching their specific goals.

“Decreasing recidivism, working with the recently incarcerated to ensure that they transition back to the community particularly if they’re coupled with mental illness or substance use dependency, to afford them an extremely fair opportunity to return to the community, be fully functional and be successful,” HFD EMS Officer Travis Karicofe said.

The program will also partner with local law enforcement and non-governmental organizations focused on providing support to at-risk populations.

So far, the program has received $780,000 in grant funding from the Department of Justice and Sentara Healthcare.

The $180,000 grant from Sentara helped HFD purchase a vehicle and medical evaluation equipment, which Karicofe says will help those in the city who rely on 911 for things other than emergency services.

“It relieves the unnecessary utilization of the 911 system for the ambulances, the emergency room, which equates to bed space, occupying physicians, occupying all the support and care staff there so it’s a win-win for everyone,” Karicofe said.

The department is actively recruiting paramedics for the program, which Karicofe says HFD hopes to launch in March 2023.

If you are interested in a position, you can find out more by clicking here.