Los Angeles fire officials are hoping to roll out a new program aimed at a portion of 911 "superusers" who accounted for about 2,000 emergency calls last year alone, KPCC reports.
Of the top 40 superusers — or people who excessively made 911 calls — 60 percent identified as alcoholics, Los Angeles Fire Department Medical Director and physician Marc Eckstein told NBC4's media partner KPCC.
"These people aren't getting the help that they need because they typically get work up in the emergency department, they sober up, and then they leave," Eckstein told KPCC. "They're not getting into detox. They're not getting housed, and our paramedics are getting tied up, and the ERs are already overcrowded."
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The LAFD has proposed a pilot program called the SOBER Unit, which would send a van staffed by an emergency responder — like a firefighter or a paramedic — and a community outreach worker to check on the superuser. If the caller does not need to go to the hospital, they would be offered services at a county sober center set to open in Skid Row this year.
"When ambulances are responding to these individuals — sometimes the same individual two times a day, taking the same patient to an ER twice in one day — that ambulance is not available to respond to the rest of the community," Eckstein said.