Seattle launches second firefighter-social worker team to cover U District, Ballard


Daniel Beekman


Seattle Times Employee Reporter

Seattle is expanding a program of sending firefighters with social workers to emergency calls involving people on the street who need help other than a trip to the hospital.

A second Health One team will start later this week to help the city expand coverage from downtown and Capitol Hill to the university district and Ballard, Mayor Jenny Durkan and city council members announced Tuesday.

Each team has one vehicle and consists of two paramedics and a case manager. They respond to non-urgent calls about substance abuse, mental health, medical issues, and other issues that don’t require an ambulance ride.

Seattle launched its first Health One team in late 2019 to help the fire department handle a spate of such calls and better serve those involved.

At the time, 42% of fire department medical calls were non-emergency, and many of them were related to homelessness, mental health, substance use and chronic medical problems, according to the city. In most cases, the calls would result in firefighters driving to the hospital or “doing nothing”.

The Health One program is designed to provide care to local people. While firefighters have to process the call and move on quickly, members of the Health One team can spend time on an issue. You can provide medical careConnect people with case managers, refer them to homeless shelters and help them schedule appointments; you can also provide people with food, drink and clothing.

Last year, less than 20% of calls handled under the Health One program resulted in hospital stays, according to the city. More than half of the waiters said they were homeless, said fire chief Harold Scoggins in a press release on Tuesday.

The city’s 911 dispatchers will decide if a call is suitable for Health One. Members of the public cannot access the program directly.

In their proposed 2021 budget, Durkan included $ 575,000 to add a second Health One team. The council added another 575.Add $ 000 for a third team due to launch later this year.

The first team is based downtown and the second team is based in Belltown, but both teams can respond across the city;

Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or U District and Ballard are added as focus areas to downtown and Capitol Hill, but teams may vary depending on the city also respond in south Seattle and Sodo. The third team will improve this reporting.;on Twitter: @dbeekman.