Reducing Repeat 911 Callers

A pilot program that saved the Baltimore City Fire Department money and increased their efficiency has become a permanent fixture.
by | April 28, 2011 AT 5:00 PM

In 2007, one person called the Baltimore City Fire Department 147 times. Between ten other people, 520 emergency calls were made. Most of these 911 calls came from people who didn't need the fire department, instead calling about insurance, medical and food issues, reports TMCnet.  If firefighters are answering house calls, only to redirect them somewhere else, then they could be delayed in their response to an actual emergency. In response, the fire department implemented a permanent practice of setting up repeat callers with a nurse and case manager to address their needs. This was a result of a three-month pilot conducted by Baltimore HealthCare Access in 2008, where once ten participants (many with chronicle ailments and mental health and or substance abuse diagnoses) were matched up with a nurse and case manager, they dialed 911 for help only 57 times. The program also saved $14,300 -- $6,300 of which went straight into the fire department's pocket. Baltimore HealthCare Access maintained the operation with little money since 2008, but seeing the value of the time and money saved, the fire department decided this past July to make the program permanent with its own funding.