The Santa Monica Fire Department announced the introduction of a brand new type of emergency resource

The Santa Monica Fire Department announced the introduction of a brand new type of emergency resource, the Community Response Unit (CRU), on September 13th. The CRU is a typical looking ambulance with two firefighters, but it has a unique mission.

The Emergency Resource is committed to providing an alternate answer to 9-1-1 calls to better serve the needs of the vulnerable Santa Monica population, including the homeless. 9-1-1 has become their only access to primary care for many in the community, hence the creation of the CRU.

“In the first few months we plan to be able to take off. This is a completely new type of program for our fire department or any other fire department. We want to learn as much as possible and find out where we are most effective. Out of the box, we’re already equipped to do some amazing things, such as: B. rerouting patients with mental illness from overcrowded emergency rooms to alternative destinations, such as the SMFD fire department captain said. “Another aspect of our program is the connection of the CRU team with the broad network of serviced providers within the community. Many of the most vulnerable people in our communities, both housed and unhodged, will end up on our list first as they tend to use the 9-1-1 system for care. The fire department has so many ways to get people to the services they need. We hope early action can be taken to improve the quality of life for many Santa Monica residents. “

CRU will work hand-in-hand with the Santa Monica Police Department Homeless Liaison Officers, Attorney General and Human Services. The city’s goal is for each team to be an extension of the other.

“For example, our team is ready to respond to 9-1-1 calls pertaining to a behavioral crisis that the CRU is certified to assess and transport to a psychiatric emergency center Mental health clinician has been on his team, ”said Nulty. “It’s really a collaborative approach that will produce very beneficial results.”

When a 9-1-1 call is less urgent and the solution isn’t necessarily the emergency room, the CRU gets to work and has the leeway to spend more time on-site to provide more appropriate resources to those in need. In addition, what makes this team stand out is their ability to move people with a behavioral crisis to a psychiatric emergency center rather than an emergency room. Firefighters assigned to the CRU have received special training in mental emergencies, crisis communication, de-escalation and substance use disorders.

One of the two firefighters on the CRU is a licensed paramedic so he is able to medically screen patients for acute health conditions and take immediate life-saving measures if they occur.

“These highly trained Santa Monica Fire Department professionals look forward to serving the Santa Monica community and providing those in need with specialized interventions and access to supportive services,” said Interim Chief Knabe. “Our team has worked for a long time and this launch is a great day for us as we continue to develop our service to meet the needs of the community in a unique way.”

Santa Monica City Council funded the CRU in the FY 2021-2023 budget as a priority project to tackle homelessness, one of the city’s top three municipal priorities.

“The program is currently only being funded for two years. We hope that it will continue beyond that. The program budget is $ 523,000 for the 2 years including staff, training, equipment / vehicle maintenance and other miscellaneous expenses, ”said Nulty.

The CRU will work with other city departments, regional agencies and nonprofits to fill the gap in housing and other support services. Another important goal of the program is to keep paramedics, firefighters and emergency rooms available for higher-level acute care services.

“The Santa Monica City Council wholeheartedly pushed the Community Response Unit earlier this year as a new investment to meet our community priority of tackling homelessness,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “The CRU’s ‘One Sensible Intervention Approach’ will help improve homeless outcomes and will serve as an extra team on our streets to face this crisis head on.”

The CRU will operate Monday through Thursday during rush hour.

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