DeKalb County started a new program Oct. 1 that aims to improve ambulance response times and hospital waits by offering advice to non-emergency patients, according to a press release.

The Nurse Navigator Program is in partnership with American Medical Response, according to the release. Calls to 911 may be transferred to a “nurse navigator” if the complaint is not life-threatening.

The nurse gives the caller a list of healthcare providers near them, such as clinics or urgent care centers, and can also schedule an appointment.

The city of Dunwoody has long considered the county’s ambulance response times inadequate and looked into setting up its own emergency medical services in 2018. That same year, the city filed a “Declaration of EMS Emergency” because of “failing emergency service response times and patient care for residents/ businesses and visitors of Dunwoody.”

Mayor Lynn Deutsch said in an email she is a “big fan” of the new program and thinks it will help with “response time and resource availability.”

The program aims to help better allocate the county Fire Rescue Department resources to provide “timely, appropriate and high-quality patient care,” according to the release.

“During our negotiations last year to select an emergency medical transport service, we requested innovative ideas that would improve response times and quality of care,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said in the release. “We believe the Nurse Navigator Program addresses this goal.”

AMR said the county’s program is the first of its kind in the state.

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