In the April edition of KGVO’s City Talk segment on Talk Back, featured guests represented two programs specializing in responding to calls for help with behavioral and mental health issues.
Along with Ginny Merriam, City of Missoula Communications Director, were Theresa Williams, Crisis Response Team Manager and John Petroff, Mobile Support Team Manager.
Williams briefly explained the purpose of the Crisis Response Team.
“I think of it as a community team, the crisis response team,” Williams began. “So it’s multiple agencies coming together to, at a system level, help us fix our broken crisis response system. And then at the officer level, and with our mobile support team clinicians, training them together. So when they intervene with someone in crisis, they have the tools that they know exactly where they are going in terms of working with that person. And they also provide resources to that person so that we can prevent this crisis from happening again in the future.
Petroff, a firefighter and EMT for many years, expanded his support role with the Mobile Response Team.
“I’ve been a firefighter for 16 years, so in the past when we’ve responded, our goal when we arrive on the scene as firefighters or law enforcement is to always end that call, find a solution and to continue. on the next call. However, the mobile support team can respond and not have an agenda, so we can meet people where they are. We can arrive on the scene and take the time necessary to defuse the situation.
Petroff said there are a growing number of people in the community who need help that law enforcement or fire response cannot meet; those with mental health and behavioral issues.
“We certainly try to approach it in a different way, like taking the time to really sit down and understand what that person needs, why they’re in crisis, and then taking that time to really defuse them and see if we can find a solution other than the emergency department or a prison,” he said. “If it’s not criminal, if it’s not medical, can we take a different approach and get them to real care? And long-term care is what we’re looking at.
Wrapping up the full hour of conversation, Williams said she and both response teams are ready to fight to help those in trouble get the care they need.
“We don’t give up,” she said. “And you know, there are times when we might say ‘no’ to something when we need help, and we don’t get help ourselves,” she said. “So I just want to encourage one of our listeners out there that hope is out there. We’ve talked about the broken system, but you can be part of that solution, whether you’re a family member or someone in trouble so we want you to contact us, and if it is an immediate crisis please call 9-1-1, but we also have excellent crisis lines. 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Line.
Click here to listen to the full City Talk presentation.
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