In the Green Bay area, where about half of 911 calls have been for falls, medics would help callers get back in bed or transport them to hospitals.
Then the medics would often be called to the same addresses days later because of additional falls.
Dave Taylor, coordinator of the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Trauma Advisory Council, figured there had to be a better way. He and the Brown County Prevention Coalition, which includes the area's health care providers, decided to connect public safety to public health.
The result is a program, started in 2016, in which medics ask older adults who have fallen or are at risk for falls if they would like to be visited by staff from the local Aging and Disability Resource Center.
If the residents say yes, medics send an electronic post to the ADRC and give the residents a brochure about its services.
ADRC workers visit the homes, often referring the residents to Stepping On classes, Meals on Wheels, home assessments, medication reviews and other services that can reduce falls.
"It's trying to get to the root of the problem—not just react to an injury, but actually prevent it," said Taylor, a paramedic.
The Madison-based South Central Regional Trauma Advisory Council plans to launch the same program in Jefferson and Dodge counties this spring, said coordinator Dan Williams. Dane County and the rest of the 14-county region could soon follow, Williams said.
The North Central council, based in Woodruff, also plans to implement the program, Taylor said.
In Green Bay, the percentage of 911 calls involving falls hasn't changed much. But calls from repeat callers have gone down—including from two brothers who called 84 times in one year; their requests for help have dropped substantially, Taylor said.
The program is partly funded by the state Department of Health Services.