Established in 2008 as the Fire Department’s social response initiative, the primary goal of the CARES Team is to improve quality of life and reduce unnecessary use of the emergency health care system by addressing a client’s needs based on the social determinants of health.

10 years medal

Many times, Fire Department personnel encounter an individual who has significant needs apart from their physical health needs. When they encounter these situations, Fire Department EMS providers make a referral to the CARES Team requesting a follow-up visit. The CARES Team Manager then assigns team members, comprised of Eastern Washington University School of Social Work students, to visit the client referred by the firefighters. The Team makes contact with the client and completes a thorough social service needs assessment. The Team develops a plan for connecting the client with community resources that address his or her needs. The CARES Team advocates on behalf of the client and assures that connections are in place to help the client improve their quality of life.

In 2018, the CARES Team:

  • Received 428 referrals from Spokane Fire Department EMS providers. This represents a 51% increase in the number of referrals managed by the CARES Team in comparison to 2017.
  • Successfully connected 341 individuals with community resources and support. Provided resources that allow vulnerable citizens in our community to remain in their home in a stable, safe and healthy environment.
  • Reduced unnecessary use of the emergency health care system by 70% (based on historical use of the emergency care system before and after CARES Team intervention).

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Contact Information

Sarah Foley, MSW, MPA
Social Response Manager
Spokane Fire Department CARES Team

Brian Schaeffer
Fire Chief