Tulsa Program Teaches First Responders How To Handle Mental Health Calls

Monday, July 31st 2017, 8:08 pm

By: Justin Shrair

A 30-day pilot program launched today will teach Tulsa first responders how to handle people with mental health situations.

It's called The Community Response Team, or CRT, and is made up of a firefighter or paramedic, a police officer and a social worker.

They started working together one day a week in January and expanded to four days a week for the rest of the month.

The team has access to real-time fire and police calls.

"You have somebody that's evaluating their health care condition, looking at security threats if there are any, and then you also have a social worker that's working to de-escalate the situation or provide the best alternative for care," said Michael Baker, Tulsa Fire Department EMS chief.

The CRT is a partnership between the Tulsa fire and police departments and the Family and Children's Services COPES unit. 

"If you have an individual that is having a behavioral health crisis, this team will be able to really help rapidly and intervene," Baker said. 

Baker said the team not only rides together in a TFD vehicle, they also respond to treat patients. 

"Release officers back to higher priority call duties, and then really we bring an integrated team together to handle what the most important need of that individual is," Baker said.

The Tulsa Commission on Community Policing recommended the program with the goal of providing a better, more streamlined response to mental health crises.

"It really helps us kinda move into what we have to for healthcare in general which beginning these integrated care teams, and this is a great step to demonstrate that model, that coming together as a group with different disciplines, on the scene, on in a crisis, really works," Baker said.

They'll collect information over the next 30 days that will help decide if the program will continue long-term.

News On 6's Justin Shrair will ride along with that team for a behind-the-scenes look at how they operate tomorrow.


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