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TFD Cares

TFD CARES - Community Assistance Referral and Education Service


The City of Tacoma (COT) Fire Department serves the community in both emergency and non-emergency medical service capacities. Starting in 2012, the COT Fire Department started providing non-emergency medical services to assist community members beyond a traditional 911 emergency medical service (EMS) call.


It is an expanded fire department-based service supported by Washington State Legislation (RCW 35.21.930). The COT Fire Department provides CARES services to ensure public safety and is a long term strategic initiative for the department. The CARES Program is available to those residing in Tacoma, Fife, and Fircrest. 


The majority of referrals to the CARES Program are made internally by first responders. Common referrals include complex medical needs (3 or more chronic illnesses), complex psychiatric needs, limited social support (homeless, caregiving, and loneliness), and substance use support and barriers. 


What does TFD CARES do? 

  • Works with individuals who frequently call 911-EMS: CARES can help navigate these patients to appropriate levels of care and services so that can improve their health and remain safe in their home, not relying on 911-EMS for non-emergent medical needs. 
  • CARES is a non-traditional team working within the community including on the street, private residences, emergency departments, and by phone.
  • Continuous collaboration with community partners in the health care and social service systems to connect care at the right time, to the right place. 


Case Management

The COT Fire Department recognizes a person’s need for medical help can extend beyond a 911-emergency medical response and sometimes that need can perpetuate over-use of 911 emergency services. Over-use of 911 EMS by individuals, agencies, and multi-family addresses can have a major impact on emergency response times throughout the entire community.


COT Fire Department non-emergency medical services work to educate on the appropriate use of 911-EMS, mitigate over-use of the 911-EMS system, and assist people in obtaining appropriate medical resources and services. A priority for the department is to ensure community members stay safe and healthy in their homes and in the community.


The Case Management Team includes registered nurses, social workers and non-clinical staff who provide expertise in all aspects of complex care. Staff assists individuals in making healthy choices and connecting with needed health services. Health services include physical health (chronic illnesses, etc.), mental health and wellbeing, chemical dependency (opioid, alcohol, etc.), and social services (food, transportation).


2020 case management

Behavioral Health

In November of 2019, TFD became the first fire department in the nation to become a licensed behavioral health agency (BHA) which will allow the department to further fulfill the needs of their community. As a BHA the City of Tacoma Fire Department has taken a major strategic step to intentionally address the behavioral health crises occurring in our community every day. This designation will also help increase first responders’ ability to call on the right team member, to provide the right care intervention, at the right time.


The addition of this license allows for staffing growth: the Behavioral Health team includes an advanced registered nurse practitioner, registered nurses, mental health professionals, and social workers, providing expertise in behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment and support. The behavioral health team can co-respond or self-dispatch and arrive on the scene with first responders to help support community members experiencing a psychiatric or substance use crisis.


2020 Behavioral Unit - 691 dispatches, 40 patients recieved Narcan, 188 medication assisted treatment, 368 assessed for treatment, 42 safe station walk-ins, 149 received support medications


Opioid Treatment/ Safe Stations

In 2019, TFD’s Safe Station program was implemented at Fire Station 1 (901 S Fawcett AVE) to offer community members a safe place to ask for help with an opioid use disorder. The CARES Behavioral Team will respond to Station 1 and provide support and treatment to anyone asking for help.


Please see the City of Tacoma - Opioid Response Plan for more details. 


Community Education & Partnerships


In addition to one-to-one directed services, CARES also partners with local facilities to address population overuse of 911-EMS.

  • Partner with multi-family addresses to generate strategies to assist residents with health and social needs.


  • Partner with local community health and social services to support community-wide efforts to ensure the safety of our citizens and improve the health of our community.


  • Partner with high-risk clients that are moved from state facilities back to the community.


  • Ongoing collaboration with local long-term adult care facilities to safely address the needs of adults living at the facility or staff supporting clients. 

University Partnership 2014-2021 158 students, 9,345 hours worked, 10,064 community members assisted, 20 projects completed


University Partnership

Students gain experience through opportunities to innovatively impact community health through the implementation of various projects to disseminate critical public health information. University partners include:

  1. Seattle University
  2. University of Washington Tacoma
  3. Pacific Lutheran University
  4. Individual internship inquiries are also supported


If not 911 EMS then who should I contact?


Make the Right Call


Behavioral Health Crisis Services

Pierce County Crisis Line

1 (800) 576-7764


Non-emergent Medical Transportation


(206) 444-4444



1 (855) 325-2569


NW Ambulance

(425) 328-7651


Transpro/Around the Sound

(253) 858-7088



1 (800) 925- 5438




Tacoma Transportation


In-Home Urgent Care/ Walk-in Clinics

Dispatch Health

(253) 652-0065


Franciscan Prompt Care

(253) 428-2200


Multicare Indigo Urgent Care

(253) 301-6975 – James Center

(253) 533-6770 – Point Ruston


Behavioral Health


Behavioral Health Resources 


Inpatient Behavioral Health

Recovery Response Center (RRC)

(253) 942-5644


Metropolitan Development Council (MDC)

(253) 593-2740


Olalla Recovery Services

1 (800) 882-6201



(253) 301-5494


Outpatient Behavioral Health

Comprehensive Life Resources

(253) 396-5800


Consejo Counseling and Referral Services

(253) 414-7461


Greater Lakes

(253) 581-7020


Casteel, Williams and Associates

(253) 536-2881


Kwawachee Counseling Center

(253) 593-0232


Multicare Behavioral Health

1 (888) 445-8120


SeaMar Behavioral Health – Tacoma

(253) 396-1634


Northwest Integrated Health

(253) 200-0300


Prosperity Wellness

(253) 536-6425


LifeStance Health (Formerly Rainier Behavioral Health)

(253) 475-6021


Psychology Today

Substance Use Disorder

Olalla Recovery Services

1 (800) 882-6201


Consejo Counseling and Referral Services

(253) 414-7461


MDC – Tacoma Detoxification Center

(253) 593-2413


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Services Locator


Washington Recovery Helpline



Poison Control Center



Additional Community Resources

The following links below provide information for additional community resources including medical, behavioral health, caregiving, in-home services, employment, education, housing, insurance, legal services, nutrition services, pet resources, senior centers, clothing resources, and more.




Pierce County Resources


Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources