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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth County community paramedics are reducing the number of calls to 911 and cutting down unnecessary and sometimes costly emergency room visits.

Capt. Brent Motsinger is the community paramedic supervisor. He explains why some people rely on 911 and how community paramedics are solving the problem.

“They didn’t know how to take their medicines, we help them learn,” Motsinger said. “Maybe they needed a primary care doctor and didn’t know how to get one. We would find a way to get them one.”

Community paramedics identify frequent 911 callers and build a one-on-one relationship. The partnership helps the community paramedic address the reason for frequent 911 calls and directs clients to the appropriate neighborhood service program. Community paramedics also respond to every drug overdose call. They provide Narcan and leave information about local agencies that can help them fight their addiction.

“We go out into the community because we truly care about the citizens and the community and we try to help improve the quality of life of citizens in our community,” Motsinger said.

Ann Cranford was a heavy user of 911. In 18 months, she called 19 times.

“I have been praying for God to send somebody that could help me know what to do,” Cranford said. “We’ve been to doctors and I was still lost about what to do for him.”

Community paramedics sat down with Cranford and reviewed her situation. Turns out she needed help for her ailing husband. Community paramedics helped Cranford get therapy services, caretakers and eventually hospice care for her husband.

“I wanted this man to be taken care of the best he could,” Cranford said. “I am thankful for the program.”

Sgt. Derek Marion is a member of the Kernersville Police Department. The department, along with other Forsyth County law enforcement agencies, rely on community paramedics.

“Those guys connect on another level than what we do,” Marion said. “If anything they are advanced. We are just the basics.”

Law enforcement offices often encounter people dealing with drug abuse and mental illness. Officers call on community paramedics because they know how to important it is to get people into the right public program.

“Instead of us going from point A, B and then C, they go from point a to point C,” Marion said. “They take them straight to the facility where they can get care from instead of us stopping by the hospital and getting the doctor’s OK to do so.”

Community paramedics also get clients from referrals. If know of someone that needs assistance with behavioral health or substance abuse, call (336) 703-2273.