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State by State: January 2021

ILLINOIS: Medics, No Police in New Chicago Response Model

Chicago officials have revised their plans for a new citywide response model for emergency mental health calls to include nonpolice responder teams, an idea pushed for several months by activists and community leaders. The plan for the so-called mobile crisis teams of clinicians and paramedics—without police—will now be part of an alternative-response pilot to launch in 2021. The city will also move ahead with an additional plan for coresponder teams that still include police officers, as well as a paramedic and a mental health professional responding together on calls. 

ALASKA: New Details Add Mystery to 2019 Air Ambulance Crash 

A federal report on a 2019 air ambulance crash in Southeast Alaska that killed all three crew members adds new mystery to an already challenging investigation into what caused the plane to go down just before landing in Kake. Both front flight crew seats and a passenger seat recovered from the ocean floor were empty, their restraints unbuckled, according to an NTSB report. It’s not clear what led the crew members in those seats to take the unusual action of unbuckling the safety devices about nine minutes before the plane was due to land.

HAWAII: Hawaiian EMS Pioneer Livingston Wong Dies at 90

Pioneering Hawaiian physician Livingston Wong, a key architect of the state’s EMS system and in other areas of medicine, died late last year at age 90. Among Wong’s contributions were helping drive Hawaii’s first heart, kidney, and bone marrow transplants, and in the 1970s he pushed for implementation of a single emergency call number and helped acquire $12 million in federal funds to upgrade the state’s EMS system. “Paramedics needed a physician champion to move [EMS] along, and he was that champion for Hawaii, “ said Honolulu EMS Chief Jim Ireland. 

LOUISIANA: A&E’s Nightwatch Will Return to New Orleans

The A&E Network’s documentary series Nightwatch, which chronicles first responders on the job, will return to New Orleans after a three-year hiatus from the city. Filming for the 25-episode season focusing on New Orleans EMS began in November and should continue into 2021, said the agency’s director, Emily Nichols. Nichols’ statement said it was “an honor” for the city’s paramedics to be featured before a national audience during a year in which they “have given so much of themselves,” doing their work amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


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