TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service partnered with The University of Alabama’s University Medical Center to develop ACTION, a program that responds to the less critical needs of the community and reduces costly hospital emergency room transports and care.
ACTION, which stands for Appropriate Care and Treatment In Our Neighborhoods, places nurse practitioners and physician assistants, social workers and behavioral health providers in appropriate response vehicles to treat 911 callers’ medical needs at the scene.
“This forward-thinking program is the next step in providing swift and effective care to our citizens,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. “ACTION will ensure the right care at the right time and ultimately reduce health care costs for patients and communities.”
In 2016, 26 percent of 911 calls in Tuscaloosa were considered low-level emergencies. At a cost of about $645 per call, avoiding ambulance rides for this purpose could save $1.7 million in transportation costs, in addition to cutting down on unnecessary admits to the hospital and emergency room treatment.
“A big problem is overcrowding and poor utilization of hospital emergency rooms,” says Dr. Richard Friend, co-director of ACTION and chair of the department of family, internal and rural medicine at UA’s College of Community Health Sciences. “Trying to stop use of the emergency room for routine care is the goal.”
The program provides more advanced clinical capabilities, including referrals to community providers for ongoing care and optimizes the potential to avoid future emergency costs and improve health outcomes.
ACTION is the first program of its kind in the state of Alabama.