In mid-June the City of Baltimore began implementation of a 9-1-1 Diversion Pilot in collaboration with a community-based service provider, Baltimore Crisis Response Inc (BCRI), to divert two behavioral health call types to start — “non-suicidal and alert” (psychiatric/abnormal behavior/suicide) and “suicidal and alert” (psychiatric/abnormal behavior/suicide). These two categories alone account for an estimated 1,000 calls received by 9-1-1 operators annually.
The central mission of the 911 Behavioral Health Diversion project is to match patients to the most appropriate and available resource. Patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis will be connected to a crisis hotline staffed 24/7 by trained mental health professionals.
Secondary outcomes of the behavioral health diversion project include:
•Reduced police response
•Reduced utilization of 911 resources (fire and EMS)
•Raising awareness about available behavioral health resources and promoting linkage between EMS, BCRI, and other crisis-oriented resources (stabilization center, de-escalation training, etc)
•Minimized interruption of 911 workflow
An “successful” diversion occurs when a patient in need (who meets inclusion criteria) is linked to the BCRI crisis line. The BCRI crisis line is then able to close the encounter without response from police or fire/EMS resources. Co-notification occurs when patients are connected to the crisis line and there is some degree of response by BPD or BCFD resources.
Although the 9-1-1 Diversion Pilot is an immediate step, the City intends to expand 9-1-1 diversion beyond behavioral health responses – such as considering improved use of peer supports, housing opportunities, and community-based youth diversion. While the City implements the 9-1-1 Diversion Pilot with BCRI, a broader diversion protocol will be developed. Additionally, the Collaborative Planning and Implementation Committee (CPIC), a working group comprised of individuals and organizations representing a wide range of disciplines and perspectives who seek to improve encounters between law enforcement and people with behavioral health disorders, will review 9-1-1 Diversion Pilot success and make recommendations on protocols for 9-1-1 Diversion expansion.