Social Work students offer bridge of help for most vulnerable
By Courtney Dunham Firefighters already know that they couldn’t save lives and make a difference in countless others without teamwork. Now that team includes students in Eastern Washington University’s School of Social Work program, who have become heroes themselves to some of the community’s most vulnerable. Each year the Spokane Fire Department responds to hundreds of non-emergency calls made to 911 from people looking for some kind of help. It costs $400 an hour to send a truck out. Those numbers have increased over the years,
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especially from chronic callers – people who repeatedly dial 911– largely because they don’t know who or what other help is out there. That feeling of helplessness often extended to the firefighters themselves, whose duty is to respond to every call, only to find out upon arrival that sometimes the need falls outside of their training. The frustration began to shift into a community resolution in 2007 when an EWU social work student asked Lisa Parise, MSW and director of field education and training, if he could do his practicum at the fire department.