Community Paramedicine Team from Kentucky Named 2022 Whelen Everyday Champions!

2022 Whelen Everyday Champions

We’re thrilled to announce that the 2022 Whelen Everyday Champion Award has been given to the Lexington Fire Department Community Paramedicine Team! The multidisciplinary team from Lexington, Kentucky includes Lexington Fire Department Captain Seth Lockard, Lieutenant Ken Howell, Firefighter Patrick Branam, Detective Kristie Smith, Mackenzie Gross, CSW, and Maria Slone, CSW.

“We’re very excited to honor the paramedicine team this year and bring well-deserved recognition to the great work they do in their community,” said Peter Tiezzi, General Manager of Motorsports at Whelen, and retired 35-year veteran of the Chester Hose Company in Chester, Connecticut.  “They truly embody the spirit of being everyday champions through their commitment to helping connect vulnerable community members with necessary resources and services,” Tiezzi continued.

Lexington Fire Department Community Paramedicine Team pictured from L to R: Maria Slone, CSW, Mackenzie Gross, CSW, Captain Seth Lockard, Lieutenant Ken Howell, Firefighter Patrick Branam, Detective Kristie Smith

Paramedicine Team Helps Residents in Need

The paramedicine team, the only one of its kind in Kentucky and one of only a few across the country, uses traditional EMS resources in a non-traditional manner to meet the needs of the community. The team works to connect the dots between struggling community members and the resources available to help them like dispatching paramedics, but not ambulances, to patients who frequently call 911 for non-emergent reasons because they don’t have anyone else to call.

The paramedicine team provides educational home visits or assessments to get to the root of the problem and find long-term solutions for individuals in need. Such as one Lexington resident who called 911 more than 30 times in one month because he had fallen and needed help getting up. The paramedicine team was able to get the man a self-lift device so he wouldn’t have to rely on EMS crews to get him up. Paramedicine intervention translates to fewer non-emergent ambulance calls and fewer patients in hospital emergency rooms. The program has decreased ambulance calls by almost 7 percent since it began in 2017, when prior to the program calls were increasing on average by 8 to 9 percent a year.

Many of the individuals the paramedicine team helps are elderly, disabled, homeless, or otherwise vulnerable adults. “We listen to the stories of these individuals and then determine how we, as first responders, can best assist them,” said Capt. Seth Lockard. “This can include securing housing for someone experiencing homelessness, advocating for a patient in a local emergency department, or locating treatment options for an individual with a substance use disorder,” continued Lockard.

Program Model Is Win for Everyone 

The small team, formed in 2017, impacts hundreds of individuals in Lexington each year. So far this year they’ve served more than 468 individuals and have followed up with more than 1,300 people suffering from non-fatal overdoses. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton calls community paramedicine “a win for everyone, especially the citizens whose quality of life is improved through their services and outreach.”

“Our community paramedicine team has changed the way we provide pre-hospital care in Lexington,” said Lexington Fire Chief Jason Wells.  “In the past, we only provided the services needed to solve a patient’s immediate medical problem,” Wells continued.  “Now, through home visits, education, and individual assessments, we are helping our most vulnerable residents get the help they need for the best overall outcome and not just a short-term solution.  We are very proud of this team and the impact they’re having on Lexington!” said Wells.

The team is available seven days a week and provides training and guidance to other local first responders including firefighters, paramedics, and police officers on available resources to help the individuals they respond to. The goal of the program is to support residents by breaking down the barriers of stigma so that people will be more open to engaging with the services that are available to help them—all efforts towards making Lexington feel small, safe, and connected.

Celebrating Our Champions

Stay tuned for more photos and videos of our Champions from a special ceremony that will be held in January 2023 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ll gather to honor the team and they will receive an award of distinction in the Whelen Hall of Champions. This special exhibit found inside the Hall of Fame inspires visitors through stories of heroism, bravery, and honor, and includes the names of past Everyday Champion winners.