A new program managed by the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department is offering crisis support services with a major focus on the homeless population.
The Mobile Crisis Unit is focused on helping people with mental health challenges, substance abuse, or chronic homelessness.
It’s a team of two. An EMT and a social worker/mental health clinician work together to respond to calls for service in the city.
The mobile unit has been deployed for the last four weeks. In just one week, they’ve contacted 33 people and helped de-escalate eight mental health crises, according to the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department.
“When the fire department shows up, they can only transport them to the hospital and that’s the only place they can go. But when the Mobile Crisis Unit shows up, we can transport them to various locations such as social services to help with welfare or EBT, homeless shelter, and we can take people having a crisis just to the grocery store or be an alternative resource for someone to talk to," said Keanu Morrison, San Luis Obispo City Fire Department EMT.
Transitions Mental Health Association is just one of the organizations working with the Mobile Crisis Unit.
“Just to provide that balance where maybe the first person that comes up to them isn’t in a uniform, is not a representative of an institution, but somebody that almost has a softer approach. That could be huge, that could really help in those first steps of de-escalation," said TMHA Community Engagement Director Michael Kaplan.
The City of San Luis Obispo will spend upwards of $300,000 this year on this program.
It's a pilot program for now, only operating Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
To reach the Mobile Crisis Unit, you can call the non-emergency dispatch line at (805) 781-7312. For emergencies call 9-1-1.
The city fire department hopes to expand the program in the future.