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UC community paramedicine course combats region's opioid epidemic

Fire science and emergency management program invites the public to learn how Ohio communities can unify to address urgent public health concerns

Larry Bennett, chair of the fire science and emergency management program at University of Cincinnati, personally invites the public to attend an open panel discussion and keynote address on March 12 to learn how Ohio communities can unify to address concerns like the current heroin epidemic.

Professionals and leaders from local fire, health, law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) organizations will discuss how community paramedicine and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) impact the local communities and how to expand the current outreach efforts.

Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus will be the keynote, speaking in support of the establishment of a county-wide QRT. The QRT in Colerain Township visits homes of citizens recently revived by Narcan to offer them transport to a treatment facility.

Community paramedicine services in Springfield Township may include follow-ups for recently discharged patients, medical support for chronic health issues and referrals to community support programs.

The panel is part of the Department of Fire Science’s community paramedicine course, a week-long, hybrid course designed for professionals in community health services. The program examines best practices in community paramedicine response, using local examples to demonstrate the transformative nature of these services. The course is geared toward anyone who wants to learn how to coordinate with emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to more effectively respond to the populations they serve.

I enjoy being an agent of change to move the industry I love, fire and EMS, to a higher level.

Larry Bennett Program Chair, UC Fire Science & Emergency Management

A middle-aged man in a blue polo is in a meeting room, standing next to a gurney. There is a patient simulator manikin on the gurney.

Mark Johnston demonstrates EMS techniques with a manikin. Photo/Provided

Ten UC professors from multiple disciplines (fire science, social work, medicine, nursing and counseling) are collaborating to present this program, reflecting how combined effort is required to tackle large-scale community health issues like heroin overdoses and frequent 911 calls. The program demonstrates how collaborative, action-based services can combat nation-wide problems like addiction and in health care gaps.

Bennett hopes that increased public awareness and empowerment will attract attention from more lawmakers, hospitals administrators and any other potential partners. Establishing policy and securing funding are top priorities for these critical programs to be sustainable and scalable.

Communities and individual citizens often do not know where to start in addressing epidemics and complicated issues of this magnitude, and Bennett wants to help connect the dots between problem and solution. He would love to see a county- or state-wide network for paramedicine and QRTs developed in the near future. Passion for his field drives Bennett's pioneering spirit.

"I enjoy being an agent of change to move the industry I love, fire and EMS, to a higher level," he explained.

The full course includes two days of on-site programming on March 12-13, and an online component March 14-16. For the first time, UC is also offering a one-credit option for an abbreviated version of the course. Cincinnati Quick Response Team members & Violet Township community paramedics will be on site to provide ride-alongs so participants can get a first-hand view of these services in action.

For more information about the community paramedicine course or panel, please contact Larry Bennett in Fire Science and Emergency Management at

Image featured at top: Larry Bennett shows a Colerain Township QRT vehicle. Photo/Provided.

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The University of Cincinnati is classified as a Research 1 institution by the Carnegie Commission and is ranked in the National Science Foundation's Top-35 public research universities. UC's students, alumni and faculty investigate problems and innovate solutions with real-world impact. Next Lives Here.