The cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie have collaborated with first responders and State Representative Lisa Callan to obtain funding for a pilot behavioral health emergency response and coordination program.
Awarded to the City of Snoqualmie, this funding will support first responders serving both communities. If the program is successful, the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie will share the costs of the position in subsequent years.
The $150,000 grant is part of recently passed state legislation designed to increase quality behavioral health co-response services. It will fund a regional behavioral health coordinator specializing in treating mental health and substance use disorders.
“For many years now, our region has been experiencing a behavioral health crisis – and Snoqualmie and North Bend are no different,” commented Mayor Ross. “This new position will provide our police officers and first responders the expert behavioral health support needed when responding to someone in crisis in the upper Snoqualmie Valley.”
The behavior health coordinator will work directly with and accompany police officers and firefighters, and EMTs when responding to crisis calls involving people with behavioral health needs. Additionally, the new coordinator will work to support identified social service needs within the community.
Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps explained, “This will allow us to effectively respond to people in immediate crisis with the resource of a highly skilled professional who can facilitate better outcomes for community members in need.”
The grant will fund the new Behavioral Health Coordinator position in 2023. Washington State 5th District Rep. Lisa Callan was instrumental in securing funding and creating this behavioral health pilot program with input and support from Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps, Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross, and North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland.
“A new resource is needed to support those experiencing mental or substance abuse crises,” Mayor McFarland commented. “With the support of a Behavioral Health Coordinator serving alongside our first responders, the benefits of tailored care and specialized de-escalation strategies will be felt throughout both communities.”
Following the program’s pilot year, a report will be given to the Washington State Office of Financial Management and applicable State Legislative Committees detailing services provided with the grant funding and recommendations on how to implement effective, integrated and coordinated behavioral health emergency response and community care services.