New team to help rural residents
One of the struggles rural communities like Douglas County face are repeated service calls from residents with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
In an effort to help those residents, a regional task force is working on ways to contact residents, provide additional resources and reduce the number of residents who call law, fire and hospital emergency department services to manage crisis.
“The goal is to help people before an issue arises,” East Fork Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson said. “Those who the team meets with are referred by fire, law enforcement, emergency communication specialists and Douglas Counseling and Supportive Services staff.”
One way of helping those residents is the development of a Mobile Outreach Safety Team.
In addition to a licensed clinical social worker paid for by the state of Nevada and a deputy sheriff whose salary is reimbursed by the grant, Douglas County’s team will include a paramedic to rule out medical issues and assist with medication.
Jessica Flood, the regional behavioral health coordinator, has assisted greatly in making the connections necessary for the team to be successful.
Team members meet with residents each Thursday to provide behavioral health counseling and resources to monitor psychological condition and potentially intervene before a disorder escalates into the individual becoming hostile or committing an act of violence.
“The implementation of the MOST program adds additional value to the tax dollars being spent on public safety and social services,” said Douglas County Emergency Manager and East Fork Fire Chief Tod Carlini. “In East Fork’s case we are able to step outside of our traditional roles as a fire and emergency medical service provider and to make positive intervening house calls with our law enforcement and clinical social worker partners to those who may otherwise end up relying upon other costly traditional services.”
The task force includes representatives from the Nevada State Department of Health & Human Services, Nevada Rural Community Health Services, East Fork Fire District, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Social Services, Suicide Prevention Network, Family Support Council, Tahoe Youth and Family Services along with Douglas County Partnership of Community Resources.
The task force works regionally with Carson, Storey, Lyon and Churchill counties. Sheriff Ron Perini, Fogerson and Social Services Manager Karen Beckerbauer are the Douglas representatives to the regional group.
If you know of someone needs help with a behavioral health issue, contact Douglas County Emergency Communications Center at 782-5126. If it is an active call, law and fire resources will be sent to intervene. If it is not in progress they will send a referral for the following Thursday when the team travels again.