This week the Public Safety Committee approved a grant from the Innovation and Performance Commission for the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) SOBER Unit pilot program. The program will partner a Nurse Practitioner with a Firefighter/Paramedic to provide service to serial inebriates – patients who are transported multiple times to emergency rooms for intoxication.
These individuals comprise a disproportionately large percentage of calls for service. Some individuals are transported to emergency rooms more than once per shift, tying up scarce resources. After treatment they are then released back onto the streets. The SOBER Unit will change this dynamic by working with a new County Department of Health Services operated Sobering Center. This center will help with detox and housing resulting in fewer calls for service.
This program follows in the footsteps of the highly successful LAFD Nurse Practitioner Response Unit, an alternative Emergency Medical Services response model for Los Angeles that allows non-urgent, low-level 911 call requests to be screened by LAFD Firefighter EMTs and rerouted to nurse practitioners within the LAFD organization. In their scope of practice, nurse practitioners can conduct comprehensive on-site assessments and perform, treat and release, or treat and transfer.