New program to address mental health emergencies

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The Sedgwick County Office of the Medical Director will manage a new pilot program to address the mental health crisis in the community.

The program is called Integrated Care Team or ICT-1. It is a three-member team that collaborates with area agencies.

"Excited about this program. This is something that our community needs," said Malachi Winter, program manager.

The specialty team will consist of a paramedic (from Sedgwick County EMS, Sedgwick County Fire, Wichita Fire), a clinical social worker (from COMCARE), and a law enforcement officer (from Sedgwick County Sheriff's or Wichita Police). They will travel together in a van provided by the Wichita Fire Department.

The team will respond to calls Tuesday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to midnight. 

Malachi said the times were based on data of when mental health needs were most prominent.

The team will respond to behavioral health emergencies and bring services to people with a mental health crisis.

"We can bring that mental health care person directly to the house of where this person called 911 seeking help and do an intervention right there at the house. Often times, we wouldn't even have to go to the crisis center," he said.

The team will also help with law enforcement workload to respond to mental health calls such as a person with suicidal thoughts.

"We are trying to be proactive about this issue. The mental health issue has been at the forefront for at least four years now," said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter. "We are trying to look at other ideas on how to address these issues."

The four-month pilot program will begin in mid to late June.