Palm Coast People: Tracy Farmer goes beyond first aid

For Tracy Farmer, being a first responder has taken a social service type of turn.
She still responds to emergencies, but instead of solely stabilizing the situation, she now looks for solutions to prevent the emergency from occurring.
As a member of a newly emerging specialty within the world of fire and rescue workers, Farmer’s current job description includes much more than first aid.
She is a community paramedic, a relatively new work classification within the fire and rescue industry that continues to provide emergency aid but looks past the immediate situation to discover its causes and provide potential solutions.
“In community paramedicine, what we are trying to do is reduce risks in the community before those risks warrant an emergency,” Farmer said. “We are evolving within the fire and rescue service in that we recognize there is this social gap in health care and services provided to our community.”
It got its start in rural areas where emergency response resources are extremely stretched and is now making its way into more urban settings.
It has been part of the emergency response by the Flagler County Fire Rescue department for five years. Farmer has been a community paramedic for the past two years.
She’s gone from treating the injuries an older person sustained in a trip and fall incident to searching for the cause of such and recommending a way to prevent the incident.
For example, the trip and fall could have occurred due to slippery surface or be due to dizziness related to a medical condition or from not taking prescribed medications because the individual could not get to a doctor’s appointment for a refill.
The scenarios are unlimited but are tied together with one basic string: The individual in the emergency situation has a social-oriented need that is not being filled.
Community paramedics do things such as determining need for community referrals, coordinating health services, conducting a safety inspection of a home, chronic health screening and much more.
With colder temperatures in December and January signaling the opening of area homeless shelters, Farmer and her partner, Rob Errett, took advantage of the health care opportunity presented by having a significant portion of the community’s homeless population under one roof.
“We were able to lay eyes on them, do assessments on them without having to call an ambulance, to do assessments in a non-medical scenario with no drama,” Farmer explained. “We get to spend the evening together, have a warm meal and convey to them that their health and their safety is important to us.”
Farmer hails from a family of civil servants, but it wasn’t until she volunteered with the local fire department that she found her career path.
“It did not take long as I started spending time at the station being around the crews and conversations with people there that I knew I wanted to go on and become professionally employed.”
Learn more about the community paramedic career path at the U.S. Fire Administration website: