Community Paramedics Don’t Wait for an Emergency to Visit Rural Patients at Home

Sandra Lane said she has been to the emergency room about eight times this year. The 62-year-old has had multiple falls, struggled with balance and tremors, and experienced severe swelling in her legs free.

A paramedic recently arrived at her doorstep again, but this time it wasn’t for an emergency. Jason Frye was there for a home visit as part of a new community paramedicine program.

Frye showed up in an SUV, not an ambulance. He carried a large black medical bag into Lane’s mobile home, which is on the eastern edge of the city, across from open fields and train tracks that snake between the region’s massive open-pit coal mines. Lane sat in an armchair as Frye took her blood pressure, measured her pulse, and hooked her up to a heart-monitoring machine.

“What matters to you in terms of health, goals?” Frye said.

Lane said she wants to become healthy enough to work, garden, and ride her motorcycle again.

Frye, a 44-year-old Navy veteran and former oil field worker, promised to help Lane sign up for physical therapy and offered to find an anti-slip grab bar for her shower.

Community paramedicine allows paramedics to use their skills outside of emergency settings. The goal is to help patients access care, maintain or improve their health, and reduce their dependence on costly ambulance rides and ER visits.

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