First responders learn how to handle mental health emergencies

JANUARY 16, 2017 | BY JUDY WANG AND PATRICK ELWOOD

CHICAGO — Chicago police, fire and emergency management personnel will be receiving new state-of-the-art crisis response training through a partnership with area hospitals.

The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Simulator Lab is located at the Chicago Fire Academy, 1338 South Clinton, where all EMS training takes place.

Weeks from now police, firefighters and paramedics will start coming there to receive training on how to better respond to mental health emergencies.

Emergency responders will take an 8-hour course, including simulations of different types of scenarios.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made mental health training a priority for reform.

In its scathing report on the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice cited poor training as an area the city needs to improve on.

This will involve all stages of a call, beginning with 911 operators and dispatchers. 90 percent of them have already begun training at the Office of Emergency Management.

Firefighters and all Fire Department paramedics will receive training at the simulator lab.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says nearly 2,500 officers are now certified as crisis trained officers. Johnson says the goal is to have 35 percent of the department trained in mental health crisis by the end of 2017.

This takes emergency responders step by step from that initial 911 call all the way to the decision as to which hospital someone needs to go to.

An Emergency Room doctor with Illinois Masonic Medical Center helped design this program.

The goal is to start this program full-time next month.