Tulsa is losing precious lives to high suicide rates and untreated mental illness. Consequently, highly treatable mental health issues can spiral into crisis, overwhelming first responders. Excessive demands to respond to mental health crisis calls divert officers from other crime-related calls.
The Community Response Team was formed in 2018 in response to these needs. This collaboration between Family & Children’s Services COPES, Tulsa Police and Tulsa Fire is a mobile mental health crisis response unit. Each member has their own expertise – COPES provides crisis intervention, stabilization and a care plan, Police provide safety and address law enforcement issues and Fire administers on-scene medical care and clearance.
The CRT enhances the health and vitality of Tulsa through rapid response, saving lives, reducing the inappropriate use of public resources by utilizing less costly interventions and treatments and is increasing public safety through more efficient utilization of fire, police and emergency resources.
The Community Response Team is pleased to report that the goals we planned for 2019 were accomplished.
From January to December of 2019, for two days a week, 10 hours a day, this innovative team provided multi-disciplinary rapid response to 564 mental health related 911 crisis calls. 25% of every 911 call was a suicidal individual. The good news is that the CRT intervened, and no lives were lost. CRT’s ability to secure the scene, provide medical evaluation and on-site mental health assessment and stabilization can result in diverting individuals from unnecessary and higher cost delivery systems.
Half of every 911 encounter was treated and stabilized in place often with a warm handoff to outpatient mental health services.
97% of all encounters did not result in arrests or jail involvement. Diverting people from the criminal justice system and into services has been shown to be successful in meeting the needs of those suffering from a mental illness or addiction.
10 individuals went to an inpatient hospital and 33 were admitted into the F&CS CrisisCare Center. These 43 individuals were diverted from hospital emergency departments. This proves to be a is less costly, and successful, alternative.
CRT model is a proven alternative to the high use of first responders typically sent on psychiatric emergency calls. With the addition to CRT, other first responders are released for other priority calls. CRT positively impacts public safety.
795 police, 72 fire and 134 EMSA first responders were released back into service. The goal was to release 500 first responders. We doubled that goal.
The CRT is a successful rapid response collaboration saving lives, increasing public safety and optimizing limited community resources.
Mental health crises happen any day of a week. As a result, in 2020 the CRT was funded to provide help 3 days a week. The need is so great that expansion to 5 days would be a win-win for Tulsa.
Tulsa’s need for the CRT outweighs the two days that the team is in operation. We are thrilled that CRT is expanding to three days a week next year as this will increase the impact on Tulsans in crisis.