Cold weather, snow keeps Eastside Fire & Rescue busy

While rain melted snow in some parts of King County, in North Bend and other locations with higher elevations, the snow continued to fall on Sunday and Monday.

Members of Eastside Fire and Rescue’s mobile integrated care team spent a good chunk of Monday going door-to-door helping some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals.

Erica Stapleton told FOX 13 that the newer program helps connect people to resources in the community. On cold days like this, that could mean heat or even food.

She said the need even surprises her when she meets some of the family that their team works with.

"I knew there was a need, but I think it’s even greater than I realized," said Stapleton. "I think living in east King County where you have a lot of wealth, people forget that there are people who are really struggling to just meet their basic needs."

RELATED: Eastside Fire & Rescue response times to 'remain unaffected' thanks to high vaccinations, officials say

On Monday, Stapleton and firefighter Cody Hotchkiss journeyed through snow-covered roads to make it to rural homes. Inside one house they found an elderly woman who takes care of two grandkids, due to the unrelenting snow she hasn’t been able to maneuver her wheelchair down a ramp for roughly two months.

Hotchkiss, who is relatively new to his role with the mobile integrated care team, said it’s a rewarding experience.

Typically, firefighters may see someone for 20-30 minutes, the new program allows firefighters to refer individuals they may see repeatedly. That gets them on a list to potentially receive help from this specialized team – Stapleton comes from a social work background, while firefighters like Stapleton come equipped with medical training.

"It could be repeat falls, trouble giving themselves health care or even housing/food insecurity – they’d all probably be referred to our crew," explained Hotchkiss. "We’re ready for it. We know there’s a ton of people up there that need the help. We go up there on a regular basis – at least once or twice a week."

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