A new team in Tulsa helped prevent a woman from taking her own life on Tuesday. Officers say she was standing outside the guardrail on the Peoria bridge over the BA Expressway for several hours.
A police officer, a paramedic, and a therapist make up the unique 3-person team known as the Crisis Response Team or CRT. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital and out of jail and instead get them the help they really need.
“One of the determining factors that she felt comfortable stepping away was the fact that I could tell her she wasn't going to be leaving in handcuffs in a police car," said TPD Cpl. Brandon Disney. "She hadn't felt safe sleeping outside over the last couple of days. She hadn't been with food for several days. She just needed resources she felt she couldn't get."
The team is on the road two days a week. The officer looks into their criminal background while the paramedic finds out if they've helped the person before. The therapist from Family and Children's Services' COPES program, checks their records.
"COPES responds 24/7, 365 to individuals who are suffering from some kind of a mental health crisis. But we look at being a part of CRT as kind of a force multiplier," from said Amanda Bradley With Family and Children’s Services. "We're able to see did they miss an appointment? Did they not pick up their medications? Do they have a specific diagnosis?"
And when they get there they each have their own roles.
"That medic offers the ability to really understand their health care conditions, really understand what medicines they may be taking that are interacting, or we can treat illnesses or injuries right there," said Chief Michael Baker with the Tulsa Fire Department
According to the CDC, Tulsa ranks 15th in the nation for suicide rates. In just eight months CRT has responded to 80 suicidal 911 calls.
"This becomes the model of the future. We are changing the way to do business and we are setting an example and a standard for across the nation," said Chief Baker.
Every year COPES gets 8 to 10,000 calls while Tulsa's 911 gets more than 13,000 suicidal calls. The CRT is on the road Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to the United Way and private donors but they're hoping to expand.
If you or something you know is in need you can call COPES at (918) 744-4800.