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City of Memphis honored for its focus on mental health during 911 dispatches

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 11:49 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Emergency responders have found an increase in mental health crises during the pandemic has led to more 911 calls. The City of Memphis is now being recognized for its team which responds to these crises.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness of NAMI of Tennessee awarded Memphis’ CARE Team with the Sam Cochran criminal justice award. The CARE, or Crisis Assessment and Response to Emergencies, Team is made up of a social worker, paramedic and police officer trained in crisis intervention.

The team is dispatched to 911 calls where a mental illness crisis could be at play. The team said its goal is to find a solution to the caller’s problem and any needs beyond that.

“Their goal is to work together as a team to find a holistic approach to caring for these persons,” Memphis Fire Department’s Healthcare Navigator Manager Kevin Spratlin said. “Our goal is to give them the best care we can while avoiding jail time and avoiding unnecessary visits to the emergency room where we know they’re not going to get the proper care for their behavioral health need.”

The team responds to more than 120 calls a month. It works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but an effort is currently being made to make the team 24 hours.

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