THE MENTAL CRISIS CALL CHALLENGE
THE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TO CALLERS WITH
MENTAL CRISES & SUICIDE RISK BEGINS WITH 9-1-1.
What burden does that place on the 911Pro? Fortunately, the experts at 911TI were way ahead of the curve in tackling this challenge. Our understanding of the crises confronting Public Safety Answering Points, and our solutions, are unparalleled.
Let's be clear: though 9-1-1 Professionals cannot control the caller's behavior or what happens on scene when field responders arrive, they can be equipped to positively influence the at-risk caller from the second the call begins, and that can change a lot.
Here's the rub: 911Pros are not mental health professionals or diagnosticians. So, they should not be expected to respond as clinicians to callers in mental crises, nor burdened with clinical responsibility to design the call guidance process and resources needed to assess and intervene with these callers.
Yet, traditionally, 911Pros have carried this responsibility. They have tried their best to figure out on their own how to handle these calls. While some have received training in suicide call management, most such training, and any call management procedures they use for such calls, have typically been prepared by other dispatchers, without psychological expertise. The remainder of our 911Pros are either self-taught or trained on the job by a coworker.
Many PSAPs do use 9-1-1 call protocol systems since they generally assure best practice in managing medical and police emergencies. However, 9-1-1 personnel report that existing protocol systems do not provide adequate guidance for mental crisis and suicide calls.
As a result, most 911Pros lack confidence and struggle with anxiety with mental crisis calls, especially when suicide risk is present.*
That is why dispatchers began asking Jim Marshall to design and deliver scientifically-based, clinically guided classes just for 9-1-1 on this subject. In response, we launched Building LifeBridges to Suicide Callers™ in 2005, and in 2009, driven again by PSAP requests, we launched Emergency Mental Health Dispatching™.
Since then, our communities and PSAPs have faced ever increasing challenges delivering optimal emergency care to citizens at risk. Fortunately, in response, 911TI has created a robust curriculum of courses and innovative resources designed specifically to empower 911Pros to meet the challenge with excellence while preserving their own well-being.
*Marshall J, Ashwood D, Fox A, Soukup J. Measuring the impact of training on emergency dispatcher management of general mental crisis calls and suicide calls. Ann Emerg Dispatch & Response. 202;8(1):16-19