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Zero Suicides: New app to help emergency crews better navigate mental health emergencies

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The pressure to respond promptly and effectively is always on the minds of dispatchers. It’s a difficult job to screen through calls and decide within moments on what to do.

Emergencies involving behavioral health only add to the complexity.

Behavioral Health and Recovery Services has partnered with local agencies to address this issue through an application called Smart911.

BHRS says the system in Kern County will be the first of its kind to focus on behavioral health-related questions. Dispatchers say sensitive situations like potential suicide are difficult to navigate, but Smart911 might just give emergency crews enough background information to form a plan before even stepping into an emergency.

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Users will be asked to provide generic information about themselves, as well as provide more specifics about their health. The system is meant to provide local law enforcement with additional context beyond what’s relayed over the phone during a 911 call.

Dispatchers say Smart911 will integrate smoothly into the current system, where a user’s information will pop up on the screen just as the dispatcher is handling the call.

Anyone can sign up now for smart911.com. The system in Kern County is set to take off in January.

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