MISSOULA — Missoula's Mobile Crisis Units -- or Mobile Support Teams as they're now called -- were available for the first time on Monday.
Monday marked the inaugural day for the Missoula CARES Program and the Mobile Support Team units will be put to the test helping stabilize people going through a behavioral health crisis.
“It’s been a month-and-a-half now that we have been awarded the grant which seems like a long time to be getting this ready,” said Missoula CARES Unit Program manager Randy Okon.
“But looking back on having to hire and train and develop the program and do the research around the country and write up our SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] and policies. It’s been a lot of work,” he added.
A lot of work to get the units going but it wasn’t done alone.
“Thankfully we have had some really good friends to look at. There is a program in Oregon that we’ve done a lot of research on,” Okon said.
“Spokane Fire Department has been running a program for about three years and Colorado Spring Fire Department -- we have worked quite a bit with them on how they are set up.”
The support units won’t be dispatched to calls immediately. They will instead be dispatched when an initial responding unit determines the scene is safe and support units are needed.
“One of those agencies will get dispatched to a call. They will recognize from the notes in the dispatch -- or once they arrive on scene -- that there is a mental health component to this incident and then they will request the mobile support team to respond,” Okon stated.
Support units will focus their attention inside Missoula but will respond to areas outside of city limits. They will offer support whenever they can to areas that are too far to reasonably respond to.
One of the units was already called into action Monday afternoon.