Chicago Expands 911 Alternative Response Pilot to Southwestern Communities | Chicago News


(WTTW News)

Paramedics and mental health professionals will soon begin responding to 911 calls in more Chicago communities thanks to an ongoing co-responder pilot program aimed at reshaping how the city responds to mental health crises.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday an expansion of the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program to four additional neighborhoods on the Southwest side: Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, West Elsdon and West Lawn.

“For too long, our residents have seen the need for mental health or substance use assistance when calling 911,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Expanding the CARE program will ensure residents can be connected to trained behavioral and mental health specialists, providing better outcomes for 911 callers and communities.”

Alternate Response Teams will begin operating in these neighborhoods Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

CARE teams, which are made up of police officers trained in crisis intervention, a mental health professional and a paramedic, have already handled crisis calls in Uptown, Lakeview and North Center on the side north, and to Auburn Gresham and Chatham on the south side. .

While those existing teams included police officers, the city said the new CARE teams would be paired with a community paramedic from the Chicago Fire Department and a mental health clinician from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The goal of the program is to eliminate arrests and use of force incidents for callers who need support while experiencing mental health issues. Once there, CARE teams can help transfer eligible residents to community facilities such as psychiatric living rooms, shelters, mental health clinics and crisis centers.

These people are also connected to community services to ensure their safety and stability.

According to the city, CARE teams have responded to more than 200 emergency calls since last September and conducted at least 170 follow-ups in person or by phone.

“I am so proud that the City of Chicago is expanding our CARE program because it rightly puts health at the center of our response to mental health crises,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “It’s not just about calling 911, it’s also about following up with residents to break the cycle of recurring attacks and get people the care and resources they need.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431


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