Paramedicine: Creating a First Line of Access and Follow-up in our Communities.

Definition: Community paramedicine is a relatively new and evolving healthcare model. It allows paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to operate in expanded roles by assisting with public health and primary healthcare and preventive services to underserved populations in the community.” Rural Health Information Hub

Recently I wrote about new models developing in primary care. From telemedicine to urgent care, access for certain conditions can be met as an adjunct to the traditional primary care physician .

Paramedicine has been developing in many states since 2009. Every community has different needs, and Paramedicine programs look different from community to community.

What these programs have in common is identifying what will help the existing health care system in that area by addressing unmet needs.

A scan of existing programs suggests common focus areas include:

911 triage to prevent dispatching an ambulance crew.

Chronic Care management in the home, in collaboration with home care, hospice, health departments or primary care practices.

Preventing readmissions or ER visits by offering some chronic care education services in the home and facilitating communications with providers.

Helping patients get to the right setting and identifying resources to support them.


Supporting the frail elderly in remaining at home with extra support.

In NYS there are pilots underway to look at Paramedicine as part of the health landscape. In others states these programs have long been a successful part of health care. Florida in particular has a compete manual for ambulances to approach certification and to train ALS paramedics.

The current demonstrations in NYS were funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, awarding grants to the Iroquois Association and the NYS Home Care Association. These pilots are about to expand from three to six. They have worked best in areas where a champion within the department takes lead in the community collaboration. Gary Fitzgerald the CEO of Iroquois notes, “EMS providers can be used more effectively in our communities.”

I spoke with the pilot in Jefferson County that is working in collaboration with their Health Department and home care agency. Paul Barter, the Jefferson County EMS Director was enthusiastic about the impact of their pilot program in Jefferson County. He stressed how excited his providers are in helping patients better understand their disease, medications, and have a better quality of life. A review of their data tells them they are reducing calls to 911 and transports to emergency rooms.

These pilots are particularly important in areas where primary care has contracted, or the local ER has closed. Workforce shortages have also hit Ambulance Corps and foundations and the Health Department should look at investments and incentives to help EMS providers expand through Incentives, including scholarships and tax credits.

There are so many positives to community based care in improving health outcomes. Paramedicine is one part of a growing system of options for communities to consider. The NYS Health Deportment should make these programs a permanent option in the NYS Healthcare landscape.


Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor, can be reached at or at