Opportunity Is Knocking For A Healthier Ohio

By: Diana Riggs
Date: March 5, 2018

UC professors promote best practices in community medicine to fight the local opioid epidemic.

A middle-aged man in a blue polo is in a meeting room, standing next to a gurney. There is a patient simulator mannequin on the gurney

Mark Johnston, UC adjunct professor, demonstrating an advanced technology patient simulator manikin

Larry Bennett, chair of the fire science and emergency management program at University of Cincinnati (UC), personally invites the public to attend an open panel discussion and keynote address on March 12 to learn how Ohio communities can unify to address concerns like the current heroin epidemic.

Professionals and leaders from local fire, health, law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) organizations will discuss how community paramedicine and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) impact the local communities, and how to expand the current outreach efforts. Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus will be the keynote, speaking in support of the establishment of a county-wide QRT.

The QRT in Colerain Township visits homes of citizens recently revived by Narcan and offer them transport to a treatment facility. Community paramedicine services in Springfield Township may include follow-ups for recently discharged patients, medical support for chronic health issues, and referrals to community support programs.

These services address gaps in local primary care services, and enable EMS personnel to maintain an emergency response presence in low call-volume areas and, most importantly, save lives. Since Colerain launched their QRT over a year ago, overdoses have declined by 35 percent. Almost 85% of the nearly 250 individuals who received “Overdose Follow-ups” since July 2015 have entered some type of treatment.

A man in a dark suit and red tie stands with his hands in his pockets, in front of a Colerain Township vehicle marked "Quick Response Team"

Larry Bennett wants to bring Quick Response Teams to more Ohio communities.

10 UC professors from multiple disciplines (fire science, social work, medicine, nursing and counseling) are collaborating to present this program, reflecting how combined effort is required to tackle large-scale community health issues like heroin overdoses and frequent 911 calls. The program demonstrates how collaborative, action-based services can combat nation-wide problems like addiction and in health care gaps.

Bennett hopes that increased public awareness and empowerment will attract attention from more lawmakers, hospitals administrators, and any other potential partners. Establishing policy and securing funding are top priorities for these critical programs to be sustainable and scalable.

Communities and individual citizens often do not know where to start in addressing epidemics and complicated issues of this magnitude, and Bennett wants to help connect the dots between problem and solution. He would love to see a county- or state-wide network for paramedicine and QRTs developed in the near future. Passion for his field drives Bennett’s pioneering spirit. “I enjoy being an agent of change to move the industry I love, fire and EMS, to a higher level,” he explained.

The full course includes two days of on-site programming on March 12 and 13, 2018, and an online component March 14-16. For the first time, UC is also offering a 1-credit option for an abbreviated version of the course. Cincinnati Quick Response Team members & Violet Township Community Paramedics will be on site to provide ride-alongs so participants can get a first-hand view of these services in action.

For more information about the community paramedicine course or panel, please contact Larry Bennett in Fire Science and Emergency Management at lawrence.bennett@uc.edu.