Truro Township: House calls all part of the job for Sarrah Knapp
No need for 911: For Truro Township firefighter/paramedic Sarrah Knapp, house calls are a matter of routine.
Knapp, a 1998 Reynoldsburg High School graduate, has been a firefighter/paramedic in the township for 19 years. Knapp is the only community paramedic in the township and for the last year has overseen the community paramedicine program, which began two years ago.
“This is my town – my whole entire family lives over here,” Knapp said. “My dad (Gary Knapp) was a firefighter with Truro, then went to Columbus. He left in 1980 for Station 23. The fire service has always been in my blood.”
Knapp, 40, said community paramedicine is more prevalent out in more rural areas in the western part of the country.
Community paramedics have the same training as paramedics but focus on specific populations to help reduce “repeat runs” to the same address. They help find more cost-effective ways to treat the patients than emergency runs and hospitalizations, according to OhioHealth.
A change in Ohio law in 2015 allowed local fire and EMS departments to practice community paramedicine. Previously, EMS personnel could not provide services in people’s homes unless they were summoned there to respond to an emergency. Under the new law, trained paramedics may perform emergency medical services on a non-emergency basis.
Columbus, Whitehall, Violet and Mifflin townships all have community-paramedicine programs.
Last year, Truro Township firefighters responded to more than 7,500 calls for service in the city, township and the village of Brice.
Several of Knapp’s patients were the results of referrals from repeated 911 calls, often for things like falls, which a community paramedic is trained to help with.
“The patients I have this month might not be the patients I have next month,” she said. “We’re looking for the missing pieces in their healthcare plan – it can be something as simple as how to properly lift someone out of bed.
“When I do a home visit, I take it all in. I was a caregiver for my grandpa on home hospice, and it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but even with my firefighter training, it was a real wake-up call. I felt and saw how it can take a toll on a family situation.”
To qualify for community paramedicine assistance, a patient or caregiver must be a Reynoldsburg resident and have placed a 911 call with Truro Township that resulted in extended care and/or have an ongoing or unmanageable health condition.
The community-paramedicine program is provided at no cost.
Knapp sees eight to 10 patients a month on average. In Reynoldsburg, most of her work is focused on allowing people to age in place and assisting caregivers with the skills they need to help loved ones.
She also educates patients about what medications have been prescribed and how to properly take or administer them.
Knapp typically works Monday through Friday but she can adjust her hours to meet the needs of patients.
“It’s all about seeing what the needs are and matching our program to those needs,” she said. “This job gives me the time I wish I had on 911 calls before. I want to be that familiar face, where you can always call me.”
For information about the community paramedicine program, call Knapp at 614-729-1910 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.