AUSTIN, Texas — Starting in February, Austin 911 operators will answer calls with the addition of a fourth triage option for "Mental Health Services."
According to a city memo, the new greeting is “Austin 911, do you need police, fire, EMS or mental health services?”
If a caller says they need mental health services, 911 initiates an immediate transfer to an on-site mental health clinician, the memo states. If a clinician is unavailable, there will be an immediate dispatch of a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer. The licensed clinicians are supposed to reduce the risk harm to callers or officers.
"This approach also allows 911 operators to quickly divert non-police related calls that do not involve a risk to the public or to the caller’s safety to the most appropriate resource available, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the police service by dispatching police to those events requiring a law enforcement response," states the city memo.
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City officials said this 911 triage option is unique and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute hasn't identified another department that has this option for callers.
The clinician is supposed to triage the call to determine if the clinician, Integral Care's Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, or police can handle the call.
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