Puget Sound Fire agrees to continue sharing FD CARES service with Renton

FD CARES is alternative response model that works proactively to reduce the emergency response load.

During their Feb. 12 meeting, the Renton City Council approved an interlocal agreement to extend the FD CARES pilot program with Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.

FD CARES is an alternative response model operating under the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority under which units that contain a registered nurse, social worker, or other specialist work both proactively and reactively to address the individual needs of community members that are chronically homeless, experiencing a mental health crisis, or identified as having unique healthcare needs.

FD CARES is a relatively new alternative response unit that has been operating under a pilot program in recent years, with the goal of providing individualized care and resource referrals to community members — and reducing the response burden and backlog experienced by traditional first responders like the fire department and police.

According to the city’s interlocal agreement resolution, the agreement with Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority will extend through the fiscal year of 2024.

According to the agreement, FD CARES shall provide services that include: the aid in the de-escalation of non-violent community members in crisis with behavioral health disorders, connecting community members to appropriate resources and address mental health issues or other social services needs, efforts to reduce encounters, assist with referrals as appropriate to mitigate future crisis, documentation and tracking both mental health and non-mental health calls for service in conjunction with dispatch (in this case Valley Communications), collection of documentation and analyzing data to measure outcomes and improve services, providing police staff with mental health or stabilization resources and or training, and attending trainings and meetings.

The agreement also includes a provision where funding partnerships could be developed with King County Emergency Medical Services, King County Mental Health, King County area hospitals, local area medical payer groups such as Medicaid, Medicare, Premera, Molina, and others.

Puget Sound Regional Fire authority provides emergency and non-emergency services to more than 120-square miles, serving a population of more than 260,000 residents. The communities served include the cities of Covington, Kent, Maple Valley, SeaTac and Tukwila, as well as unincorporated areas of King County Fire District #37 and King County Fire District #43.