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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 the traditional 911 emergency medical service (EMS) call.CARES LOGO

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.

Most 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 is able to help navigate these patients to appropriate levels of care and services to help improve their health and remain safe in their home. The goal is to alleviate the reliance on 911-EMS for non-emergent medical needs while getting patients the care and assistance that they seek.
  • CARES is a non-traditional team working within the community including on the street, with private residences, emergency departments, and primarily by phone.
  • Continuously collaborate 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 that 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 works to educate on the appropriate use of the 911-EMS system, mitigate over-use of the 911-EMS system, and assist people in obtaining appropriate medical resources and services. A priority of the department is to ensure community members stay safe and healthy in their homes and in the community. 


The Case Management Team includes nurse case managers who provide expertise in all aspects of complex care. Staff assists individuals in making healthy choices and to connect 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).


2023 Overview






Opioid Treatment / Safe Station

Opioid Treatment / Safe Station

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. 


Education and University 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

Students gain experience through opportunities to innovatively impact community health through implementation of various projects to disseminate critical public health information. The following depict an overview of our university partner accomplishments in addition to all university partnerships thus far:


University Statistics


University Partnerships

Emergent and Non-Emergent Contact Information

If not 911 EMS, then who should I contact?


When to Call 911 


Behavioral Health Crisis Services

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Behavioral Health Crisis Line

Pierce County Crisis Line

1 (800) 576-7764

Crisis Text Line




HOPE Program - City of Tacoma


In Home Urgent Care/Walk-in Clinics

Dispatch Health 

(253) 652-0065
Dispatch Health 


Franciscan Prompt Care
(253) 428-2200
Franciscan Prompt Care


Multicare Indigo Urgent Care

(253) 301-6975 - James Center

(253) 533-6770 - Point Ruston

Urgent Care 


Non-emergent Medical Transportation

NW Ambulance

(425) 328-7651


Transpro/Around the Sound

(253) 858-7088



1 (800) 925-5438




Additional Community Resources

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


Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources


Pierce County Resources

City of Tacoma 311