The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department and Dallas Police Department are pleased to announce the awarding of a W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas grant designed to enhance the emergency response to calls involving behavioral health emergencies in our City. This innovative program, which will receive up to $1.5 million over three years, will partner specially trained and equipped paramedics, police officers and mental health experts who will respond as a coordinated team to safely and effectively manage patients experiencing behavioral emergencies.
Historically, paramedics and police officers have had limited tools available to help them manage patients experiencing behavioral health emergencies. This grant could dramatically change the response to these patients while also decreasing the need to utilize other scarce EMS, police and hospital emergency department services throughout the City.
Leadership from DFR and DPD have worked closely with a team from the Smart Justice Project of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to examine best practices around the country for responding to persons experiencing behavioral health emergencies. Based upon this research a program is being designed that will significantly improve the response to these calls while diminishing the need to utilize other expensive and already overburdened resources throughout the City. The grant funding from the Caruth Foundation will allow for a “proof of concept” pilot program to begin in early 2017.
Fire Chief David Coatney and Interim Police Chief David Pughes wish to extend their thanks and appreciation to the Caruth Foundation for awarding the grant, and to the Smart Justice Project, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center EMS Medical Direction team for their assistance in developing this project. It is hoped that individuals with mental illness or those who are experiencing behavioral health emergencies will benefit from this enhanced service, that other emergency services capabilities will be better maintained and that this project will set a standard for other communities and public service agencies to emulate. We are pleased to announce this initiative as another way Dallas is working diligently to be the safest city in the United States.