Portsmouth’s new Community Response Team to provide help at patient’s doorstep, skipping trip to ER

Community Response Team
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 18:05:12-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – When a 911 call goes out for a mental health crisis or an overdose, first responders don’t always have much time. The patient is quickly taken to the ER, and that’s the end of their interaction.

“A lot of the times, you don’t have the luxury of taking the time of educating them or being able to sit down, and [ask], ‘What do you really need?’” said Portsmouth Fire and EMS Paramedic Madison Gray.

But that will soon be changing in Portsmouth.

The new Community Response Team will be able to zero in on the real problem. First responders will be focusing on a holistic approach to connect people with the right resources.

Made up of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, social workers, substance abuse professionals and others, the team will be able to get patients the help they need right at their doorstep, skipping the trip to the ER.

“Going to the ER over and over again may not be solving their problems,” Gray said. “Maybe they don’t need to go to the hospital. Really, they need a better primary care doctor. Maybe they just need their medications explained to them better. Maybe they just need a simple prescription refill.”

By building on that trust and connecting patients with the right resources, Gray said first responders will have more time for the real emergencies ultimately helping to save more lives.

“If we could just save one person out of the hundreds and hundreds in Portsmouth, it would make the difference,” said Gray.

The program will officially roll out next week. The Community Response Team is hoping to expand it in the near future to offer even more resources under one roof.

Related: Members of Newport News CARE team keeping busy since program's launch