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Henrico Citizen

Henrico Division of Fire’s CARE Team earns national recognition

By Citizen Staff,

2023-03-15
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The Henrico Division of Fire’s Community, Assistance, Resources, and Education Team has been named the Randy R. Bruegman Agency Innovation Award recipient by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The annual award recognizes, incentivizes, and advocates for innovation in the fire and emergency service. The CARE Team serves citizens throughout the community who have unmet needs, including frequent users of 911 who ultimately are better served by non-emergency services.

CARE Team members regularly evaluate the big picture for those people, pursuing solutions outside of emergency response in order to identify resources and reduce demand on first responders.

“When we see a pattern where someone is utilizing 911 regularly, we work with them to learn about the support they’re seeking,” said CARE Team Coordinator Jelisa Turner, who alongside Henrico Fire Lt. Daniel Myers accepted the award at the CPSE annual conference in Orlando earlier this month. “We’re then able to collaborate with our firefighters and EMTs, and other county agencies and community partners to close gaps.”

Because the program is designed to address root causes and provide sustained support, the CARE Team’s work results in multiple benefits and efficiencies for citizens and Division of Fire personnel alike, according to Fire officials.

Henrico Fire Chief Jackson Baynard cited the CARE Team as a key component in the division’s ongoing quest to maintain best-in-class service and response times amid a growing number of calls for service.

“It’s our responsibility to recognize the dynamics of the calls we respond to, as well as our own limitations,” Baynard said, adding that division personnel often build relationships with neighbors who call 911 on a regular basis, and it’s evident when emergency response isn’t getting to the heart of the matter.

“Firefighters and EMTs want to help,” Baynard said. “Which means we have to know when to take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘OK, now what?’ And that’s when Jelisa and the CARE Team step in.”

The CARE Team’s impact is evidenced in data, but Turner said the anecdotes are what truly illustrate the positive outcomes.

“When we fill a gap for someone in the community, that’s a celebration,” she said. “The other side of that celebration is that we can then report back to our firefighters and EMTs. It reassures them that their neighbors are being cared for.”

Previous Randy R. Bruegman Agency Innovation Award recipients include the City of Riverside Fire Department, California, and Lincoln, Nebraska, Fire & Rescue. A prerequisite of the award is international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Henrico Fire has maintained accreditation since 1998.

“The CARE Team has the unique opportunity to meet and help hundreds of our neighbors every month,” Turner said. “We’re grateful to the Center for Public Safety Excellence for recognizing the value this type of service brings to Henrico.”

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