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New Program to Divert Mental Health Calls Away From 911 Operators

You are currently viewing New Program to Divert Mental Health Calls Away From 911 Operators
  • Post category:News

A new program, Behavioral Health Response, Tiffany Lacy Clark is calling “cutting edge” and a “tremendous positive collaboration” among the city of St. Louis, Missouri and beyond later. Clark is the COO of the contractor involved in this program. The goal of this program is to move away from mental health calls from 911 operators. Thousands of 911 calls beginning in the month of January will not be reached by St. Louis police or fire personnel.

New Program and Behavioral Health Professionals

These calls involve people with mental health issues or in a mental crisis. They may well be re-directed to specially trained behavioral health professionals.

There are also expansive goals of the program. That would be to relieve police and EMS workers from responding to many mental health crises. In addition, to prevent people from undergoing a crisis from going to jail or the hospital. To also help get behavior health services when they need them.

New Program will Start in St. Louis

Moreover, St. Louis is said to be will be the first city in the U.S. to move such calls outside the 911 system, officials said.

The St. Louis Mayer Lyda Krewsom said last month the city is very excited about this program.

There are two parts to this new initiative. One will be a 911 diversion and the other a co-responder program.

The 911 Diversion Explained

Typically, the 911 cars which involve a mental health concern end up with a response by police or an ambulance. Often, “neither is really the appropriate place,” said Lacy Clark.

Instead, in the 911 diversion program, dispatchers will be trained to send calls that don’t involve imminent health. Nor safety concerns to Behavior Health. That department already offers telephone counseling and mobile outreach services.

5,000 Calls Diverted a Year

According to Wilford Pinkney Jr., Krewson’s director of Children, Youth and Families said as many as 5,000 calls could be diverted this way a year.

The city of St. Louis, Missouri handles roughly 700,000 calls to 911 per year according to Krewson. Though it is reported that about a third result in someone being dispatched. This is due to the number of duplicate calls that are received for some incidents as well as other factors.

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