City of Sarasota continues to account for highest number of monthly calls for EMS help for the homeless

Sarasota County Fire Department releases April figures

A graphic shows the figures over the past 12 months. Image courtesy Sarasota County Fire Department

Although the federally mandated Point-in-Time survey of homeless people in January showed a drop of more than 200 in the City of Sarasota, that municipality continues to lead in the number of calls from the homeless for emergency medical services, the latest Sarasota County Fire Department report says.

In April, the report notes, 137 homeless individuals called for assistance in the City of Sarasota, compared to 37 in the unincorporated parts of Sarasota County and 12 in the City of Venice.

The City of Sarasota number represented a 20.2% increase compared to the figure for April 2016, the report continues. Thus far, since Jan. 1, 292 homeless people in the City of Sarasota have requested EMS aid, the report points out.

The comparisons year-over-year for the unincorporated county show a 94.7% uptick in individuals seeking help, the report says, while the Venice figure reflects an increase of 140%.

Neither the City of North Port nor the Town of Longboat Key had any EMS incidents involving homeless people in April, the report points out.

Additionally, 26 of the 30 individuals who called for EMS services more than once in April were in the City of Sarasota, the report says. Altogether, those 30 people accounted for 67 extra transports, the report adds. Only two of the repeat callers were in the unincorporated part of the county, the report says, with the other two in the City of Venice.

One patient was transported 11 times in April, while a second was transported seven times, the report notes. Seventeen patients were transported twice, it says.

Of the total number of patients in April — 186 — 90.9% were taken by EMS to a hospital, the report points out. Those 169 individuals represented 3.4% of the total number of transports for the month, the report adds. However, EMS teams saw a 34.8% increase in the number of calls from homeless persons in comparing April 2016 figures to those for April of this year, the report says.

Over the previous 12 months, a graph shows, the highest number of EMS transports for homeless individuals was in July 2016, with 174 out of 234 originating in the City of Sarasota. The lowest total was for March of this year, when EMS handled 125 calls. Of those, 84 came from homeless individuals in the City of Sarasota, the report shows.

Both the City and County commissions have accepted a report, completed in April, by a consultant hired by the City of Sarasota to recommend ways to resolve homelessness issues in the community. One facet of the report focuses on a coordinated entry system designed to help individuals obtain the services they need, so they can move beyond emergency shelter into permanent housing.

The interim director of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness addressed the coordinated entry system during the May meeting of the Continuum of Care, which comprises representatives of the providers of services to the homeless. Ed DeMarco talked during the May 10 session about the fact that the system must be implemented by January 2018, to comply with a federal mandate.