Published Sunday, December 19, 2021, 1600 hours PT
KING COUNTY, Washington — City of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Councilmember Herbold, SFD Fire Chief Scoggins, Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27, Kenny Stuart, and the Human Services Department Director, Tanya Kim announced the 3rd Health One unit to join the Seattle Fire Department in early 2022, which is slated to serve the citizens primarily in the portion of the City.
Health One units are staffed with two Seattle Fire Department Firefighter/EMTs and a Human Services Department Aging and Disability Services Division social worker, which helps those with mental/behavioral health or substance abuse illnesses, as well as those with non-emergency medical issues.
According to the City of Seattle website, the demand for these types of services has dramatically grown since the year 2020, when 50% of those served by Health One were reported to be homeless and 95% of all clients listed on public insurance or uninsured. Additionally, in 2020, 37% of all of SFD’s medical calls were determined to be “low acuity” calls, which were said to be related to social service needs, such as homelessness, mental health crises, drug and alcohol use, and chronic medical issues.
These units are dispatched through the SFD FAC (Fire Alarm Center/9-11 Center) by calling 9-1-1 and cannot be contacted by the general public directly.
Before the program was created, about 42% of the 96,000 calls received by Seattle’s 9-1-1 dispatch center in 2018, were not life-threatening and included some calls deemed behavioral health and addiction issues that firefighters and medics were not equipped to deal with or have the ability to treat.
The Health One program was launched on September 11, 2019.
The second Health One unit was announced on April 13, 2021, which was assigned to serve underserved individuals in the University District and Ballard communities.
“The Health One program has proven to safely and effectively provide services to those who need it most, including our unhoused population and those suffering from behavioral/mental health disorders and substance abuse. Firefighter/EMTs and case managers staffing these units have received specialized training and always respond with patience and compassion when interacting with clients. We look forward to launching our third unit into service next year, and expanding our emphasis service area to South Seattle,” said Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.
To learn more about this great program, you can visit the Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Line (published online blog) at https://fireline.seattle.gov.
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