County Executive Ryan Announces Mobile Mental Health Team is Up and Running

KINGSTON, N.Y. – As a part of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, County Executive Ryan announced that the Mobile Mental Health Team now includes a full-time social worker available to respond to 911 calls based out of the County’s 911 Center. Through the 2021 Executive Budget, $900,000 in funding was allocated to expand the Mobile Mental Health Team. The increase allowed for the hiring of a full-time social worker to be located at the 911 Emergency Center. Residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis who call 911 will now be met with a trained trauma-informed emergency response. 

“At a time when so many residents are still struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our community, the addition of a full-time social worker as a part of our Mobile Mental Health will help provide the necessary support for our residents during this time of need,” said County Executive Ryan. “Working out of the County’s 911 Center, this expansion of services will strengthen the County’s already strong public safety telecommunications and ensure we are responsive to County residents.” 

In January 2021, Access: Supports for Living expanded the Ulster County Mobile Mental Health Team through the addition of a Licensed Master Social Worker, assigned as a Mobile Team Dispatcher. The years of education and experience in both mental health and emergency services possessed by the chosen candidate were matched to the needs of the county. The goal for the  Mobile Team Dispatcher position is to partner with their 911 center dispatch counterparts to facilitate safe diversion of callers, who are seeking support for a behavioral health issue. 

The 911 center has become the work location for the Mobile Team Dispatcher. The Mobile Team Dispatcher has begun triaging telephone calls made to the team from residents seeking assistance. She has been providing telephonic counseling to callers in acute need, as well as tracking the location of the Mobile Mental Health teams to coordinate in person, community responses to callers.  At present, the mobile team dispatcher is primarily an extension of the community team and an additional supportive resource for Ulster County residents. This position is steeped in diversion. Frequently, behavioral health issues do not require law enforcement intervention to achieve resolution. Many times, law enforcement is deployed as the initial response despite the absence of criminal activity. The ultimate goal is for 911 dispatchers to divert behavioral health-related calls to the Mobile Team Dispatcher.  In an effort to responsibly and carefully move toward diversion, the county will first embark on a project to train all 911 center dispatchers in the fundamentals of behavioral health. The Mobile Mental Health team operates every day from 10:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.. The mobile team dispatcher is on duty from noon until 8:00 p.m. five days per week.

April 11th through April 17th is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Ulster County’s 911 dispatchers serve as a vital link between the residents in our county and the fire, medical, and law enforcement agencies. In 2020, Ulster County’s public safety team answering point processed 83,037 calls for service.