First Responders

The Importance of Engaging and Educating First Responders

Those experiencing a behavioral health crisis often interface with law-enforcement for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the public knows the 911 system far better than the community crisis line.  During the normal course of a police officer’s day they are frequently called to the front lines of behavioral health crises. Most communities have limited community behavioral health crisis services to address these issues, and as a result, those experiencing a mental health crisis may end up in jail rather than in treatment or, may be taken to an Emergency Department (ED) where they may wait for hours (or even days) to receive care. Either scenario delays treatment and causes further trauma to individuals  which further acerbates the crisis-cycle while simultaneously creating hospital boarding challenges.

Crisis Intervention Team Training

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training for First Responders is of great importance.  Officers trained to understand mental illness learn to de-escalate rather than heighten crisis situations, greatly reducing the trauma experienced by those in crisis.  Crisis facilities have a responsibility to engage first responders making them aware of their services, providing entrances with clear signage, and allowing drop-offs at any door to quicken drop-off turn-around times.  This is accomplished through establishing an open door policy, sending patients to receiving-centers in lieu of less beneficial alternatives like Emergency Rooms or jails.