Thanks to a $125,000 grant, Chandler firefighters will be better able to assist residents during a behavioral health crisis, according to a news release from the town’s Fire, Health and Medical Department (CFHM).
The department was one of five recipients of an Innovation Grant from Vitalyst Health Foundation, an award intended to catalyze impactful health innovations.
“A proven, consistent approach that firefighters can use to de-escalate and assist with crisis intervention will take time to create but we have incredible partners here in the Valley who are making this goal a reality,” wrote Department Chief Tom Dwiggins in the statement.
A crisis can take many forms, from getting in trouble with the law or injuring yourself accidentally or on purpose. It’s also a crisis situation if you find yourself developing a plan to take your own life or are considering hurting others, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The department plans to offer this behavioral health training course to 202 personnel by early next year. Then, the team will evaluate the program’s effects and share training curriculum with departments throughout the state.
The grant is jointly funded by Vitalyst Health Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation.
CFHM will partner with Arizona State University’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Arizona, Community Bridges, the Crisis Response Network, Mesa Fire & Medical, Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care and Mercy Care Plan.
“Our Crisis Response programs, carried out by our community paramedics and social workers, provide support for patients who may be struggling to manage their complex medical and social needs,” Dwiggins wrote in the statement.
Through this new training initiative, Chandler’s firefighters aim to be just as capable of assisting residents behavioral health needs as they are in assisting with physical needs.