Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), in partnership with the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, recently formed the Community Service Officer-Paramedic (CSO-P) program, an all-volunteer program that trains experienced, certified paramedics to be non-sworn law enforcement Community Service Officers. The Community Service Officer-Paramedic program will complement the current Emergency Medical Services (EMS) available to citizens of Meeker County.
The paramedics are supervised by Sheriff Jeff Norlin and his command staff and receive medical direction from HCMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Dr. Jeffrey Ho, one of HCMC’s emergency physicians. Dr. Ho, who is also a sworn Meeker County deputy sheriff, serves as the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office Medical Director.
Conceptualized 2 years ago, the CSO-P program initially sought to utilize newly certified paramedics as volunteers so that they could gain experience prior to obtaining a regular paramedic job.
“But we quickly discovered that this program was highly desirable to experienced paramedics who already were working in EMS,” explains Dr. Ho. “These paramedics were interested in gaining new experience and learning more about the law enforcement profession.”
After receiving several applications, 7 recruits — who first had to pass a background check and an oral interview panel — were selected for the program. These paramedics have completed their first phase of training in Meeker County, and they are now deploying with sworn deputies for field training as part of the next phase of training.
The primary purpose of the Sheriff’s Paramedic Program is to enhance the number of hours and the geographic coverage of Advanced Life Support (ALS)- paramedic level care available within Meeker County. This is not intended to replace any of the current ALS services available in Meeker County. The paramedics will be working various shifts and will respond with advanced life support equipment to medical emergencies in a specially marked sheriff’s paramedic squad car bearing both the Sheriff’s Office and HCMC’s recognizable logos. They will be responsible for providing initial advanced life support care until the arrival of the ambulance EMS personnel. When there are no medical emergencies, the CSO-P’s will augment the sworn patrol staff with non-enforcement duties to enhance public safety coverage throughout Meeker County.
“It’s very rewarding to see this kind of partnership between law enforcement and medical personnel,” said Dr. Ho. “Combining both areas of expertise broadens the base of public safety coverage for the area, offering Meeker County residents more services at no extra cost.”
Equipment for the program will be provided by both the Sheriff’s Office and HCMC, while the time for the program will be volunteered by the paramedics.