The more Guilford County Emergency Services staff sees the county’s new Adult Care Team program in action, the more they like it.

Recently, Guilford County Emergency Director Jim Albright was positively glowing when he spoke to the Rhino Times about the impact of a newly developed program meant to reduce the number of 911 “emergency” call responses that weren’t really emergencies.

In the past, Emergency Services would respond – often at great expense – to calls that were really more social services issues or issues that could be handled more efficiently and effectively by other county departments.

In 2024, Guilford County staff began deploying its brand new Adult Care Team – a team of service providers meant to address some common issues for frequent users of the county’s Emergency Services in order to take some pressure off of those first responders and free them up for true medical emergencies and other emergencies.

When Albright was asked if he felt a burden had been taken off of Guilford County EMS’s plate, he lit up and said, “Oh my, yes!”

When asked how many calls had been removed from EMS and handled by the new team.

“Oh, hundreds. Hundreds!” he said

Albright gave an example of one wheel-chair bound man who called 911 over 100 times in a short period of time. Why? Because the man lived in a second-story apartment, and, every time he arrived home, he called 911 to help him up to his apartment.

He did the same every time he needed to leave his apartment.

Sharon Barlow, the director of the Guilford County Division of Social Services, said that social services workers helped the man find a more handicap-accessible ground-floor dwelling and that problem was solved.

That’s just one example of the social services team helping reduce frequent 911 callers.  Guilford County Metro 911 is constantly flooded with calls that are better handled by a county division or department – such as social services – and those responses put a heavy strain on a system that’s really meant for true emergencies such as heart attacks, gunshot wounds, automobile accident victims and similar incidents.

Albright said this program comes is a very welcome relief at a time when there is a real strain on the county’s ambulance response system.

In 2023, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved the pilot program, which had the two following goals: “improve life outcomes for adults with specialized needs who use Emergency Services for non-emergency assistance, and preserve Emergency Services’ ability to respond to emergencies.”

According to information provided recently, over a 30-day period, the program reduced non-emergency calls from these frequent callers to 911 from 344 to four.

The new program is estimated to save over $400,000 as well as 170 public safety staff hours.

Albright said there are many callers who call 911 for all sorts of reasons that aren’t emergencies, and he added that it doesn’t take very long to identify who those repeat callers and assign responses to the Adult Care Team.

Guilford County is currently in the first phases of the program; however, residents can expect it to continue given its ongoing success.

This project will focus on “cross-department and cross-organization wholistic case management, data sharing, seamless service referrals, and simplified universal intake and resident self-service.”