Psychologists answer 911 calls in one municipality in North Carolina.

Psychologists answer to 911 calls in one municipality in North Carolina.

Everyone is instructed to dial 911 in an emergency to summon the police, fire department, or emergency medical assistance. But what if the caller doesn’t require assistance because of a fire, an accident, or a crime?

I feel a little bit hazardous to myself,” one recent Durham, North Carolina, 911 caller remarked. Not anybody else to the hospital I would want to go. I lack a means of transportation.

The person who answered the phone was Leigh Mazur, who differs from other 911 responders in several ways.

Have you ever tried to harm or kill yourself previously, as you describe having ideas of being hazardous to yourself? Mazur questioned.

She is a licensed clinical social worker and one of a small group of mental health specialists working with the city’s Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Team, or HEART, a pilot program that seeks to better match 911 responses to callers’ actual needs by placing mental health specialists in the call center itself.

Jordan Hyler, a certified mental health clinician, and HEART member stated, “We as clinicians have greater training in mental health and just diagnosing folks who are dealing with that.”

The HEART team was successful in bringing Mazur’s caller to a hospital in their situation. Hyler, however, informed Gupta that the callers’ needs might vary; some may be seeking assistance with suicidal thoughts or self-harm, while others may be dealing with domestic abuse and violence. The crew receives complaints about loitering and trespassing rather frequently. It frequently involves someone who is homeless or struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.

According to national studies, between 19% and 38% of 911 calls are believed to be about these types of problems; nevertheless, armed police response is not always necessary.

While opinions on dialing 911 were generally the same regardless of race or ethnicity, opinions on the effectiveness of the number varied by age, with 44% of those under 30 doubting its efficacy while more than half of people over the age of 30 agreed.