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Mesa Fire's 'unique' program garnering attention

Sandra Haros/KTAR

A relatively new program in Mesa is drawing a lot of attention from fire departments in other states.

In August 2012, Mesa Fire and Medical Department and Mountain Vista Medical Center united for the benefit of residents.

The "unique public/private partnership" placed a nurse practitioner in a mobile treatment unit with a firefighter or paramedic.

"It fills a gap," Mesa Fire Captain Forrest Smith said. "Not to replace doctors or hospitals but really just to fill that void where the patient doesn't necessarily need the emergency room or urgent care, but might need a little assistance."

According to Smith, having the new unit has prevented unnecessary transports of non-emergency patients to the hospital. That, in turn, has alleviated some of the congestion in local ERs.

The two-person team responds to lower-level 911 medical calls such as congestion and back pain. This frees up four firefighters, who man the big fire trucks for more serious emergencies, including strokes, heart attacks and fires.

Nurse practitioner Tom Morris said he's used to an emergency-room type setting, but the change is welcome.

"I love it," Morris said. "I get to see patients at their homes and on the street. Plus I get to work with firefighters."

Anaheim, Calif. and Midland, Texas, have demonstrated a desire in modeling a similar program.

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About the Author


Sandra moved from the small border city of Yuma, Arizona to study Broadcast Journalism at Arizona State University in the late 90s. Since graduating, she's worked at several local TV stations including Univision, Fox 10 and 3TV.

Working at KTAR, has allowed her the opportunity to cover major national news events, including Presidential visits, the Tucson Tragedy and the Wallow fire.

When Sandra isn't covering breaking news or behind a microphone in the studio, she's probably at home with her best friend Mark and her two dogs, Lily and Lola.

Sandra enjoys cooking and admits to enjoying "really bad" reality T.V. She also enjoys spending quiet time at home with people she loves, playing a little poker and traveling.

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