Austin budget adds millions for mental health response in 911 services
The city of Austin puts mental health clinicians at Austin-Travis County 911 Center and beefs up community paramedics staff
The city of Austin will hire one part-time and two full-time clinicians able to answer video calls from paramedics or crisis intervention officers. The new telehealth tool will be used by Integral Care and Austin Police, according to KXAN.com.
Included in the Austin City Council's recently passed fiscal year 2019-20 budget, there's additional funding for Austin-Travis County Emergency Management Services Integral Care’s Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT) to increase speed and access to care for adults and children having a mental health crisis.
The new budget will also out four new EMCOT clinicians at the 911 call center.
“When you call 911, they ask you what is your emergency. Is it fire? Is it EMS? Is it law enforcement? Now, we’ll be able to offer the option of is it a mental health call,” said Dawn Handley, Integral Care’s Chief Operations Officer.
In addition to telehealth tools and mental health clinicians at Austin-Travis County Emergency Management Services, funding to hire an additional seven people for the agency’s Community Health Paramedics program, which currently has 11 paramedics.
Chief Ernesto Rodriguez said EMS is repsonding to mental health calls many times per day.
Our plan is to put community health medics in vehicles and add them to the system, and any time a mental health case comes up, whether it’s an Austin Police Department case or one of our own, we’ll notify them, and they’ll start moving in that direction quickly,” said Rodriguez.
The new budget also includes training for 911 dispatchers.