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Cincinnati program that focuses on helping people in crisis gets more money

The program is called the Alternative Response to Crisis Program
Cincinnati EMS 911 communications
Posted at 9:33 PM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 21:33:33-05

CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati program to help people in crisis is getting more funding to extend the length of the program.

The Alternative Response to Crisis Program (ARC), which responds to mental health-related 911 calls, received additional funding to extend the program by six months.

“The Alternative Response to Crisis Program or ARC is a city pilot program to send an alternative type of response to low-level crisis situations in Cincinnati instead of sending police,” said the Emergency Communications Center Director Bill Vedra. “There is a citywide need for this type of service.”

He said when people call 911, call operators go through a list of criteria to determine if they are eligible for this alternative service.

“We get calls about mental health situations, people who are experiencing homelessness, people who need to be connected to other types of services in the community, and the police department and the fire department aren’t always the most appropriate type of help,” he said.

Vedra noted the ARC team consists of one paramedic and one behavioral health clinician. They work 40 hours a week Monday - Friday.

“The initial data shows there is a big need," Vedra said. "We in these initial few months have responded to about 230 911 calls and the team has gone out and checked on people and got them connected to service providers, but we have flagged over 2,000 911 calls as being eligible for this type of response.”

He said the 911 center is getting calls around the clock from all across the city that could benefit from an ARC response. Vedra added early data indicates the city could use more ARC teams.

Vedra noted the team doesn’t respond to any situations where a weapon is involved or if there could be violence.

“We have not had any incidents where the team has been in danger in these first three and half months there’s been zero times where the team has needed police to come because there was some type of safety concern,” Vedra said.

He added the goal of this program is to help alleviate police resources and also get people the appropriate type of help they need.

Vedra said the city is working on a public dashboard to allow people to see the distribution of all the calls from around the city. They hope to have that dashboard up by the end of November.

The next phase will be to connect callers who feel suicidal to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Line.