Wisconsin paramedics trained to help you even more

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Oct. 7, 2015) -- In an emergency, paramedics are the ones who get you to the hospital for help quickly, but there are some who call when emergency help isn't what they need. Now, there are "community paramedics" in southeast Wisconsin who are trained to help them, and the benefits are far reaching.

"I am born and raised in Milwaukee, I wanna see my community thrive," said Lieutenant Sharon Purifoy, a paramedic of seven years in Milwaukee, who is now a newly trained community paramedic. "I'm a paramedic because I like to help."

Now, she can help even more. Lt. Purifoy's job will be to visit the homes of, and help, those who call 911 when they don't necessarily need to.

"During these home visits, we're going to be doing wellness checks, we are going to help some of the citizens manage the chronic illnesses that they are faced with by introducing them to resources," Lt. Purifoy said.

She volunteered because she's seen the need first hand.

"We could see the same person two, three times a day sometimes, so this program is really going to help and cut down on those calls," Lt. Purifoy added.

Paramedics from Milwaukee, West Allis, Greenfield, the North Shore Fire Department and even Madison are a part of this. They were trained by University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee's Doctor Kim Litwack. She says the paramedics are well trained on how to handle emergency situations.

"Our goal is to fill in the parts of their care that they don't have expertise, which is what we call the yellow light patient or the green light patient," Dr. Litwack said.

In other words, those who need help from somewhere other than an ER, or someone who may not need medical care at all, just companionship.

"I was put in charge of the Milwaukee Fire Department efforts."

Milwaukee Fire Captain Michael Wright says paramedics are the perfect fit since they are already in the community.

"They'll let us in and we talk to them their level and I think that's very important for people to understand that we can communicate with because we communicate in their homes on their level all the time," Capt. Wright said.

He added, "Much like the way that paramedics currently operate under Milwaukee County EMS and the Medical Director, we have the ability to treat patients across municipal borders. The Community Paramedics of Milwaukee County will function under the same structure. MCEMS and Medical Direction will enable us to function and serve ALL citizens regardless of location."

This program is completely voluntary and there are already 12 citizens in it this month. It's also free of charge. Another training class is expected to begin early next year. Other Wisconsin cities, like La Crosse, have expressed interest in doing this.

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