Elgin Fire Department Develops Ideas To Lower Number Of 911 'Super Users'

Rob Hart
September 21, 2018 - 1:38 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- When they have no one else to call, they call 911.  And now one northwest suburb is coming up with a way to help.

Most people call 911 when they have an emergency, but there are some people who call 911 when they have a problem, but don't know where to go.

The Elgin Fire Department is developing ideas to cut down on the number of ambulance runs.

Elgin Fire Chief David Schmidt said at a city council meeting last week that two people are responsible for 100 ambulance calls per year. The idea is to reach out to these so called 911 "super users." 

Schmdit said they are teaming up with hospitals, non-profits, and social services agencies to find frequent callers and see if they can solve some problems without resorting to calling 911.

"It's to get an idea or understanding of what exactly the issue is that they're dealing with and what steps we can take to improve their situation," Schmidt said.

The fire department also wants to solve some calls to 911 without sending an ambulance. Another idea that's under consideration would allow dispatchers to transfer callers to a nurse, mental health professional, or doctor's office to take care of an issue without sending an ambulance crew.

"They read off a series of questions, interrogation questions to try and dig a little bit deeper to determine what the issue is and determine the significance of the issue," he said. "So we are still absolutely meeting their needs, but it is just different ways of doing it." 

Another idea includes a special life support ambulance that would answer lower-priority calls.