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CareOregon, a nonprofit that provides health care services to low-income Oregonians, gave the city a $2.5 million grant to kickstart the program.

COURTESY PHOTO: OPB - A Portland Fire & Rescue vehicle.Headaches. Back spasms. Stomach pains. Cuts. A case of itchy toes.

Portland Fire & Rescue estimates they respond to roughly 28,000 of these low-level medical calls each year. Though many callers could be treated for their ailments at home, they will nevertheless be transported to a nearby hospital.

Officials with the Portland Fire Bureau say the current system is wildly inefficient, clogging up emergency rooms, straining the 911-system and driving up health care costs.

On Wednesday, fire bureau officials announced they're trying to change the status quo with a new type of first-responder program.

The initiative, called the Community Health, Assess and Treat Program, will change how the fire bureau responds to nonurgent medical calls. Instead of focusing on taking patients to the hospital, first responders dispatched to these calls will treat people at home and help connect them with a primary care doctor.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their full story can be found here.

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