Alternative EMS Response Programs

Community Paramedics

Community paramedics provide support for people who frequently call 911 for emergent and non-emergent issues. After a person has made several 911 calls, community paramedics begin working to connect them with services that can better meet their needs. For people with complex situations, GRACE Intensive Case Managers work alongside community paramedics offering more long-term support and coordinated care. Together, they may make connections to medical and behavioral health care, accompany clients to appointments, and help manage their overall care.

The Community Paramedic program most frequently serves people who are dealing with complex medical issues, substance abuse, mental illness, complications related to aging, disability, fall risks, and/or homelessness. 

The benefit of the Community Paramedic Program is two-fold: people are connected to medical and social services that better meet their needs and it creates capacity for the Fire Department to more quickly respond to immediate emergencies.  

Narcan Leave Behind Program

Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services is proud to continue the Narcan Leave Behind Program. This program provides Narcan Kits to those At-Risk individuals, an involved bystander, or family that are At-Risk of opioid related overdose. Narcan is a medication that can save lives by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.

Narcan Kits: The kits can be requested by emailing Steven Cohen at [email protected]

Training: Whatcom County EMS is available to train individuals, organizations or provide training resources. Contact Steven Cohen, EMS Training Specialist, at 360-820-6157 or [email protected] 

Legal: If you are worried about being sued or arrested in relation to using Narcan, Washington State has laws to protect you.

RCW 4.24.300 Immunity from liability for certain types of medical care (general public)

RCW 69.41.095 “Naloxone Law” – distribution, possession, and administration of naloxone among laypersons, first responder/law enforcement immunity

RCW 69.50.315 “Good Samaritan Overdose Law” – immunity from drug possession prosecution in drug-related overdoses

WCEMS Community Paramedics Joe Frank and Aaron Wolven

GRACE Community Paramedics smiling in front of Bellingham Fire Department
Click the image for more information about Community Paramedics and the collaboration between multiple organizations across Whatcom County to find solutions for high utilizers of the 911 system with the Ground Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) Program at

WCEMS Training Specialist Steven Cohen and Paramedic Captain Erica Martin holding a WCEMS Narcan Leave Behind Kit

Steve Cohen and Paramedic Captain Martin holding the Narcan Leave Behind kits

Opioid impacts on the WCEMS System in 2020:

  • There were 1701 calls that EMS providers used Narcan
  • 870 calls involved drug overdose/drug ingestion drugs
  • Drug overdose deaths increased 250%, according to Whatcom County Medical examiner

WCEMS Transportation Van Program

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Whatcom County  Transportation Van Program was developed. This service is providing limited transportation services for those who are COVID-19 positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 and must quarantine. The van, staffed by EMTs, serves as a solution for individuals in need of transportation who do not need an ambulance ride, but still need transportation in a COVID-safe way. When not transporting people, the EMTs who staff the van provide support at Lighthouse Mission Ministry's Basecamp. 

WCEMS Transportation Van

WCEMS transportation van in front of the Isolation and Quarantine Facility