Missoula's mobile crisis unit coming together as more funding is secured

Posted at 10:30 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 00:45:12-04

By next month, the Missoula Fire Department in collaboration with Partnership Health Center will launch its new initiative, a mobile crisis unit.

The new community resource is a pilot program funded by the county, the city, and a grant through MDPHHS.

Assistant fire chief Brad Davis said both the fire and police departments respond to mental health and behavioral 911 calls each day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it's their area of expertise.

He’s confident the mobile crisis unit will benefit those using it and the first responders who will now have more time to focus on what they’re trained to do.

“If someone calls 911 and if it's a behavioral or mental health crisis, this unit can be dispatched to that call. Essentially, it would be a nondescript vehicle with a mental health professional and an EMT on board,” said Davis.

The crisis response team would then deescalate the situation, provide care, and continue to follow up with the individual in the days following their crisis call.

“I think this is just a different approach to put the right people with the right resource on the scene at the right time to actually help these individuals,” said Davis.

Additionally, he said a designated unit for mental health and behavioral calls will help with cost savings and workforce reduction for first responders.

Currently, the mobile crisis unit is only a 10-month pilot program, but Davis’s plans reaches far beyond 10 months.

“My vision is not just to run a 10-month program with a mobile crisis response team,” said Davis, “I want to incorporate a crisis intervention team program coordinator, we want to incorporate two mobile crisis response teams, we want to have the capacity here at the fire department to essentially build a division that's dedicated to social work and mental and behavioral health.”

Davis said all eyes are on the Missoula Fire Department as they roll out this new resource and collect data along the way for the city and MDPHHS.

He hopes to have the mobile crisis unit up and running next month.