First responders, mental health, dispatch coding, COVID-19: Crisis within a crisis
Keywords:mental health, first responders, dispatch coding
Community members experiencing mental health challenges often call 911. On one hand, mental health challenges among community members have grown exponentially during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. On the other hand, pressure on first responders has increased the complexity of emergency response due to the following reasons: responders not being trained in mental health, difficulties in properly identifying mental health calls, and discrepancies within police coding systems themselves. Consequently, mental health calls may not be addressed appropriately in a community. Understanding how first responders address 911 mental health crisis calls provides a foundation for improvement. A review of the literature illustrates the nature of responses from 911 to end disposition. The analysis highlights the challenges related to identifying mental health calls, matching appropriate responses, and targeting changes that could increase identification accuracy and speed. Based on the literature review, we are proposing a framework for training and research.
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