Chattanooga firefighters respond to thousands of calls each year sending engines and crews to everything from chemical fires to medical and assistance calls.

Deputy Fire Marshal Seth Miller says the department has recently seen an increase in calls from those that are elderly or disabled who need help after a fall or going to the restroom. These are non-emergency calls that put each responding company out of service.

“If an emergency happened a street over, that particular fire company is out of service and unavailable to respond to the true emergency,” Miller said.

Which is why the department is teaming up with Goodwill Chattanooga through the HELPs program. It's designed to give refurbished medical equipment to those that qualify free of charge.

“They can't get the equipment or maybe they do have insurance but the deductibles are so high, they can't afford $85 for a walker or could be a couple hundred dollars for a wheelchair or multi-thousand dollars for a hospital bed or electric wheelchair,” Goodwill Chattanooga Director of Development Devin Beirne said.

These canes, walkers and wheelchairs are sanitized and ready to go and Miller says they could make all the difference for someone needed to get around safely.

“To help our citizens who may only need a piece of equipment to help them instead of calling 9-1-1 on a regular basis,” he added.

Goodwill Chattanooga donated $1 million worth of medical equipment last year alone. They hope this new venture will better the community and take a load off firefighters.

“As they're talking with people who may have fallen in the bathtub, they're letting them know, ‘Hey, call Goodwill they have this program, they have the equipment, and they'll provide it for free,'” Beirne said.

To find out more information and eligibility click
or call 423-629-2501 Ex. 3140.

This program wouldn't be available if it weren't for donations, so if you have medical equipment you no longer need, donate it to Goodwill.