Community Paramedicine is a unique practice that represents the intersection of health care, public health, and public safety. It represents an expansion of the traditional notion of emergency medical services as simply an emergency response system. Community Paramedicine, which is also sometimes referred to as Mobile Integrated Health, is the totality of the roles and responsibilities of individuals trained and credentialed as medical practitioners.
There are several different approaches to Community Paramedicine, including: Nurse or Physician Assistant based models, Hospital based models, and Central Fire Dispatch based models. Each model provides very different programs, but what they all have in common is that they successfully use mobile healthcare to address patient needs specific to their communities.
These innovative and evolving models of community-based healthcare are designed to provide more effective and efficient medical services at a lower cost. CP also allows medical professionals to function outside of their traditional emergency response and transport roles to help facilitate more appropriate and responsible use of emergency care resources while also enhancing access to primary care for medically underserved populations.
Medical professionals with a range of education and training that are frequently involved in Community Paramedicine include licensed paramedics, nurses, physician assistants, and even medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine (M.D. and D.O.). All receive specialized training and work within a designated Community Paramedicine program under local medical control as a part of a community-based team of health and social services providers.
Paramedics in particular are uniquely positioned for expanded roles as they are geographically dispersed in nearly all communities – inner-city and rural – and are always available. Paramedics also already work in home and community-based settings, and are trusted and accepted by the public. They are trained to make health status assessments, to recognize and manage life-threatening conditions outside of the hospital setting, and operate under medical control as a part of an organized systems approach to care.
Community Paramedicine programs focus on providing services when access to healthcare is limited, or when a short-term intervention is needed. It is not meant to supercede or replace any health programs that are already available in the community.