At a time when most of us are settled in for the evening, Buncombe County emergency responders are gearing up to answer calls bringing them face-to-face with a variety of incidents and unpredictable situations that can be a staple of late-night shifts. Flexibility and a genuine willingness to help are essential for getting through this type of demanding work. On Feb. 23 around 10 p.m., the County’s Public Health department received a request for Isolation and Quarantine housing, with one individual requiring transportation. At the time, the County’s contracted ride service was unavailable, and that’s when Community Paramedic Kevin Miller stepped up. “Had it not been for Kevin and the Community Paramedics program, this individual would have been sleeping outside until transportation could be arranged the next day,” explains Environmental Health Director Jessica Silver. “Imagine not feeling your best, not being able to socialize with others, and having no other option but to sleep outside with no shelter. When I called Kevin and explained the situation, he did not hesitate to respond. Our I&Q guest made it to the shelter safely around 11 p.m.”
Kevin is no stranger to fielding calls later in the evening, as his Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT) clients often reach out for assistance. “Calls like these are important because it allows access and assistance to those most in need, but not meeting emergency criteria,” explains Kevin. “As a team, we have several interactions a day with situations like these and being able to assist means that we are breaking down barriers, filling the gaps left by overstrained systems, and improving social determinates of health.”
Being on the frontlines of responding to community needs means being ready to assist with almost any situation at any given time. “My favorite part of this job is the flexibility we have to do what’s best for every encounter. Not being emergency responders allows us to spend extra time mitigating issues and assisting individuals or groups with what they need while not utilizing the already busy 911,” notes Kevin. “This particular call worked out so well because the individual needing assistance was just getting off work and it was late in the evening. Due to the scenario alone, he would have had to spend the night outside. The uniqueness of our team working 24/7 allowed for him to be safely transported to a safe location for I&Q.”
While Kevin is humble and sees it as just another day (or night) at work, it’s the perfect example of how Buncombe County employees are making personal connections and a real difference in our community. As Jessica puts it, “In my eyes, Kevin is part of the larger public health superhero puzzle, and I am grateful for his service.” Thank you Kevin, and our entire Community Paramedics team, for your tireless work, it is an inspiration to all of us.