Community paramedicine is not a new field, but it is a growing one in the era of innovative care delivery models that emphasize integration across disciplines, a comprehensive approach to care coordination, and a commitment to reducing health disparities. Community paramedics are medically trained first responders who serve in expanded roles that include primary and preventive care as well as services designed to reduce patients’ need for hospital visits. Community paramedic programs typically focus on medically and socially underserved populations that are at higher risk of using emergency departments—think first responders with community health worker skills.
Why are they important to health equity? Community paramedics can fill critical gaps in access to medical care, establish important linkages between vulnerable populations and direct service providers, and offer a friendly face for people in need. While the profession began as a way to address gaps in health care in rural Texas, the idea has increasingly been adopted in urban areas such as Minneapolis, Minnesota.