By Corinne Murdock |
Flagstaff will now have behavioral health specialists and medics answering 911 calls related to mental health crises, substance abuse, and public intoxication. The city council approved a $2.6 million contract during Tuesday’s meeting for the “alternative response mobile unit” service offered by Terros Health.
According to the council’s executive summary of the contract, the mobile response units will only operate from 10 am to 8 pm. They will also have “cultural items” on board in addition to the medical basics.
The mobile response unit will be conducting proactive outreach and responding to calls in a van. The van will provide enough space for specialized equipment for basic life safety response, in addition to comfort items such as water and snacks, emergency clothing, toiletries, blankets and cultural items like abalone shells, sage and cedar and the ability to transport individuals as needed.
Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy tweeted the news on Wednesday.
“We did it! In a few months, a behavioral health specialist and medic will respond to 9-1-1 calls around mental health and public intoxication, diverting calls that don’t require police presence,” wrote Deasy. “Council approved the contract with Terros Health. A defining moment for Flagstaff!”
Flagstaff’s decision to assign certain 911 calls to response teams of behavioral specialists and medics is part of a larger national movement – one that picked up speed after the death of George Floyd.
Terros Health is a nonprofit mental health services provider that receives Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds and has federal Public Health Service (PHS) status. They’ve recently partnered with Mesa Public Schools (MPS) to offer their services, paid for by patient insurance or outside financial assistance.