In an effort to bridge the gap between members of the community in need and area social service agencies, the Iowa City Fire Department has created the Navigator Assistance Program. Under the new initiative, the fire department is striving to further its knowledge of Johnson County's wide array of social service resources in order to connect community members with those agencies and programs.

There are two goals of the initial phase of the Navigator Assistance Program:

Foster a basic understanding of the services available in order to inform compassionate conversations when firefighters assess a need during an interaction with a member of the public.

Provide community members with contact information for Johnson County Social Services Navigator Steve Nachazel.

"We believe that by using our presence as professional emergency responders to instill trust in the navigator, we will be able to help connect people with the support they need. It is a modest goal that will have a big impact," said Iowa City Deputy Fire Chief Eric Nurnberg.

The Navigator Assistance Program is an offshoot of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT). Comprised of leaders from area fire departments, law enforcement agencies, Johnson County Ambulance Service and a multitude of social service agencies, the MDT meets monthly to address severe cases of unmet needs using a multi-disciplinary approach. The Navigator Assistance Program will allow ICFD to proactively serve community members and connect them with resources before a quality of life issue becomes a crisis for the individual.

Resources on area social service agencies can be found on all Iowa City fire apparatus and firefighters have been encouraged to become familiar with the programs contained within the binders. Among these resources are business cards that can be shared with individuals who may benefit from contacting the Social Services Navigator.

"Our personnel encounter thousands of people each year," said Nurnberg. "We are in a unique position to help identify unmet needs in our community and connect those individuals with the necessary resources. We are excited about this partnership and the potential benefits for the community."

If you or someone you know is in need of social services assistance, Johnson County Social Services Navigator Steve Nachazel can be reached at 319-356-6090 or

Date of publication

Thursday, September 30, 2021