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United Way Gives Major Grant To Tulsa’s Community Response Team

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Tulsa Area United Way is giving more than $100,000 to a program designed to help people with mental illnesses get the help they need.

Michael Baker with the Tulsa Fire Department said the goal is to have the Community Response Team up and running 365 days a year, but, he said the grant from the United Way will at least allow the teams to go out two days a week.

In 2017 alone, 13,000 911 calls were mental health crisis calls - each one taking time and effort from first responders, and, ultimately taking them away from crime-related calls.

"The goal is to relieve public safety responders and make sure that we're most importantly taking care of that individual that's really having a rough day," Baker said.

The Community Response Team consists of a Tulsa police officer, a Tulsa fire paramedic and a therapist.

"Together, that team is able to address any security threats, healthcare need and mental health crises that is going on," Baker said.

That means patrol officers and other emergency personnel can leave the person suffering from a mental illness in the care of the CRT and get back on the streets.

But, until now, the funding to keep the team rolling just wasn't there.

Mental Health Association Oklahoma CEO, Mike Brose said, "We really couldn't do the program right now because of the budget limitations."

The program has been granted about $106,000 from the Tulsa Area United Way, money that will now give the CRT the ability to run two days a week for the next year.

Baker said that will hopefully be enough time to show the community just how necessary the program is.

He said the teams need to get together for a little bit of training before they hit the streets again, but, he said they hope to be back up and running by the beginning of February.

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