NAU students assist with alternative response program for Flagstaff Fire Department

Flagstaff Fire Department truck

Two NAU graduate students are working with the Flagstaff Fire Department on a pilot program to help ease the demand on personnel and resources when dealing with non-emergencies.

For example, up to 20 percent of all calls the fire department responds to are non-emergencies related to public intoxicants, which could leave victims of severe medical emergencies at risk.

Kate Yenik, public administration
major, and Brent Collinsworth, clinical health psychology major, are helping to design and evaluate the new program called CART—Community Alternative Response Truck.

Through the program, when calls are made to 911, dispatchers will triage the situations to determine which can be directed to CART as non-emergencies. Rather than sending a fire truck and ambulance with lights and sirens, dispatchers will send the alternative truck with two fully trained EMTs on board. If EMTs determine the situation to be an emergency, they will dispatch an ambulance to transport the individual to the hospital.

“Part of the scope of this whole program is to increase our customer service by keeping three of our busiest frontline engines in service to respond to true life-threatening medical emergencies,” said Capt. Kevin Wilson of the Flagstaff Fire Department.

CART will launch on Thursday, Nov. 27. The pilot project will run for 35 weeks and be operational from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The students looked at call data to determine the optimal time.

Yenik and Collinsworth will evaluate the program through attitude surveys and data analysis to determine if it is viable for the community.

“We want to know if this is cost effective for the community and the fire department and giving people the care they need without spending as much money,” Yenik said.