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Poulsbo Fire CARES connects individuals to resources that meet their specific needs.

Program description

Poulsbo Fire CARES is a collaboration between the Poulsbo Fire Department and the City of Poulsbo with the goal of serving community members facing behavioral health-related issues and chronic medical conditions. CARES stands for Community Assistance, Referrals and Education Services. That program primarily responds to referrals from first responders (fire, EMS, police) but also accepts referrals from some social service partners. Through CARES, individuals are connected to resources that meet their individual

needs and assisted with system navigation.

Read more in Olympic Community of Health's Connecting Community Members to Care report.

Populations of emphasis 

• People with behavioral health needs

• People with chronic medical conditions

• People using 9-1-1 to address non-emergent conditions

• Approximately 60% of calls are for elderly/aging

How it works

  1. Referral received.

  2. Referrals prioritized based on crisis and time-sensitivity.

  3. Team makes follow up calls and/or field visits; works with individuals, caregivers, health and social service providers.

  4. Warm handoff to needed resources (ensuring connections are made).

  5. Continue case management as needed (limited).


  • 299 referrals received and 257 people assisted January-June 2023

  • 88 individuals connected to care January-June 2023

  • 74 avoided 9-1-1 calls because of on-scene activity/home visit and 7 times fire crews relieved in the field January-July 2023

Source: Poulsbo Fire CARES

Tips for success

  1. Hire a program manager, or someone who can hold the reporting, grants, and building partnerships pieces of this work.  

  2. Consider community context and available resources. This work is not impactful if we don’t have resources to refer to that meet people’s needs-and close working relationships with partners. 


Braided funding through various grants including:

  • Department of Commerce

  • Salish Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization

  • Kitsap County 1/10th 

  • City of Poulsbo and Poulsbo Fire offer in-kind funding for core staffing


Connecting Community Members to Care Report

OCH is honored to share the success of Poulsbo Fire CARES and is inspired by their continuing commitment to timely, compassionate care that meets individual needs. Read more about this and other successes in OCH's Connecting Community Members to Care report.

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