Created: November 15, 2019 05:26 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Bernalillo County Fire and Rescue is teaming up with the county's Behavioral Health Department.
“We've seen success from the MCT (Mobile Crisis Team) that are law-enforcement driven teams and we anticipate this would have the same type of success and be able to grow," said Fire Chief Greg Perez.
The six teams respond to people who are having a mental health crisis. It then tries to connect them with resources, instead of taking them to jail.
“We have opted to shift that level of response to add a non-law enforcement model," said Margarita Chavez-Sanchez, interim director of the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Department.
Chavez-Sanchez said she will add two new teams with the fire crews.
They are paid with money from a tax increase that was passed in 2015.
Officials said the current teams receive about 1,300 calls a year. But they want to help more people, so county commissioners approved using fire firefighters to deescalate certain situations.
“Our hope is to offer the highest level of care we can to these individuals when they're in crisis,” Perez said. “And sometimes it tends to be a little bit softer approach when you have a firefighter or EMT who is responding together with that clinician.”
The chief said firefighters will start training to be on the mobile crisis team early next year. They are expected to be ready to hit the street in July 2020.
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