EMS calls for homeless individuals fall 20% in city of Sarasota year-over-year for September

Northern part of city remains predominant ‘hot spot’ for calls so far this calendar year

A bar graph contained in the September report shows the trends of the past 13 months. Image courtesy Sarasota County Fire Department

The number of requests for emergency medical service (EMS) transports for homeless individuals in the city of Sarasota fell more than 20% in September, compared to the same month in 2016, the latest Sarasota County Fire Department statistics show.

Additionally, a “hot spot analysis” of calls for the third quarter of the calendar year indicates the area with the highest number of EMS calls was bound predominantly by 17th Street on the north, North Tamiami Trail on the west, U.S. 301 on the east and Mound Street on the south in the city of Sarasota.

The EMS call rate was up in the unincorporated parts of the county, according to the September report. Still, the total for those areas was 39 in September, compared to 31 in the same month of 2016.

For the city of Venice, the figure dropped by two-thirds year-over-year — from nine in September 2016 to three in the same month of this year, the report says.

Altogether, EMS transports of homeless individuals for September numbered 159, a drop of 15% from the 187 recorded in September 2016, the data show.

A ‘hot spot’ analysis shows the areas of North County with the highest number of calls so far this calendar year. Image courtesy Sarasota County Fire Department

Thus far this calendar year, 1,422 EMS transports of homeless individuals have been reported, with 1,049 of those originating in the city of Sarasota and 307 in the unincorporated parts of the county.

The City of North Port’s Fire Rescue teams recorded three incidents involving homeless people in September, the report notes, while the Town of Longboat Key had none.

Of the past 13 months, March had the fewest EMS calls for homeless individuals, at 125, the report says. That month, the figure for the city of Sarasota was 84; for the unincorporated county, 34; and for the city of Venice, seven.

Out of the 159 homeless people who needed EMS assistance in September, the report notes, 84.3% were transported to a hospital. That figure represents 2.7% of the total for the month, the report says.

Altogether for September, the report continues, 28 individuals requested EMS services more than once: One person was transported seven times; another, five times; two patients, four times each; six people, three times each; and 18, twice.

The City of Sarasota continues to rely on the Homeless Outreach Teams (HOT) of the Sarasota Police Department to encourage homeless individuals to accept assistance, so they no longer will feel the need to live on the streets.

The Sarasota County Commission plans a Nov. 14 public hearing on a Quality of Life Ordinance that will criminalize some activities, such as sleeping out of doors, in an effort to encourage homeless people to get help provided by a number of nonprofit agencies, including the Salvation Army.

The board members also have committed to working with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office about concerns Sheriff Tom Knight has expressed regarding implementation of that new law. During an Oct. 10 discussion with the commissioners, Knight and Major Paul Richard said the Sheriff’s Office does not have enough personnel to handle the additional outreach the department’s senior staff believes the ordinance will necessitate in the unincorporated areas of the county.