Jackson Township Fire Department personnel are making a new kind of house calls as part of an innovative new outreach program.

The Community, Assistance, Referrals and Education Services program -- known as CARES -- adds a non-emergency component recently permitted by a change in legislation to its existing emergency medical services.

CARES is a community-paramedicine program designed to build on the trust the fire department already has established within the community by focusing on injury prevention, education and collaboration with local social agencies to help improve the lives of residents.

Community paramedicine is an emerging field in health care where paramedics work in expanded roles to connect residents with underutilized area resources.

This model of care is designed to integrate with existing health-care resources across the care continuum by assisting with chronic-disease management, addressing home-health and social needs, finding alternate transportation options and following up with patients once they are discharged from hospitals.

Jackson Township's CARES program is modeled after existing local and national paramedicine programs, but will be unique based on our community's specific needs.

The community paramedic responsible for the program will assist in locating available resources for those needs.

Jackson Township firefighter/paramedic Greg Tussing has been named the fire department's first community paramedic.

Tussing has been a paramedic for 18 years and has worked for Jackson Township since 2003.

The community-paramedicine program allows township personnel to work with other community organizations and care providers to find solutions to various issues that may otherwise prevent residents from thriving in their home environment.

In just a few short months since the program's kickoff, we have helped more than 60 patients.

We are excited for the CARES program to grow and expand in the coming months, reaching its full potential to improve the quality of life for so many in Jackson Township including the city of Grove City and village of Urbancrest.

We want to hear from you if you would like a detailed description of the CARES program, or if you are an area resident or organization that sees an opportunity to partner with our department to expand public health in our community.

Contact CARES at 614-991-6861 or by email at CARES@jacksontwp.org.

Lt. Robert Schneider is EMS coordinator for the Jackson Township Fire Department.