Upcoming Mental Health Response Legislation and 911 Center Compliance

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many states are passing legislation to divert 9-1-1 calls related to mental health issues to appropriate crisis centers. This can improve first responder handling of emergencies that involve people experiencing a mental health crisis. 

What are the upcoming legislations?  

Currently, four states have had legislation introduced to put safety protocols in place. For the most part, the focus is on identifying emergencies that involve a mental health crisis and diverting those calls to an appropriate crisis center or mobile mental health response unit. Here are the states with active legislation and what Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs) can do to prepare. 

Virginia 

What is it? 

The recently signed Marcus Act requires the establishment of a mental health awareness response and community understanding services (Marcus) alert system by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) throughout the Commonwealth. The timeline is as follows:

  • December 15, 2020: The governor signed the legislation.
  • July 1, 2021: A plan for compliance had to be submitted and a database established.
  • December 1, 2021: Five Marcus alert programs must be established statewide.
  • July 1, 2022: Local protocols must be established to meet Act requirements.
  • July 1, 2023: Five additional Marcus alert system programs must be established.
  • July 1, 2026: All geographical areas must have established a Marcus alert system.  

What does it mean for your ECC? 

A core feature of such legislation is a mandate to establish a health database that can provide information for ECCs about the mental health status of callers. ECCs can prepare by developing such a database or partnering with a platform that provides access to such databases.

Illinois 

What is it? 

In Illinois, the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA) is on the governor’s desk. The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health is preparing to provide mobile mental and behavioral health services to all Illinoisans as part of the federally mandated adoption of the 9-8-8 phone number, and 9-1-1 PSAPs must coordinate with 9-8-8. 

  • June 28, 2021: The legislation was sent to the governor. 
  • January 1, 2023: Each 9-1-1 PSAP and emergency service dispatched through a 9-1-1 PSAP must begin coordinating its activities with the mobile mental and behavioral health services established by the Division of Mental Health

What does it mean for your ECC? 

At this time, the legislation remains on the governor’s desk. If passed, ECCs will need a way to coordinate with 9-8-8 and share important data when needed about the mental health status of people in crisis.

Pennsylvania

What is it?

Two bills comprise the Law Enforcement Education and Accountability for People with Disabilities (LEAD) Initiative: the Safe Interactions Act and the Human-services Emergency Logistic Program (HELP) Act. These Acts would reduce calls to 9-1-1 call systems regarding non-criminal emergencies and provide robust training to law enforcement on interacting with people with disabilities, including those experiencing a mental health crisis. The HELP Act would divert non-criminal, non-fire, and non-medical emergency calls from 9-1-1 systems to state and regional 2-1-1 systems, while providing resources and funding to improve 2-1-1 referral systems.  

  • December 9, 2020: Bills introduced. 

What does it mean for your ECC? 

At this time, the bills have only been introduced. However, they could move forward at any time. ECCS can prepare by taking steps to connect with data platforms that can provide health information, including mental health information, to 9-1-1 telecommunicators. 

Connecticut 

What is it? 

Bill CT H 6045 intends that the general statutes be amended to permit police dispatching systems and the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing System to «include an indication that an individual in a household may inadvertently respond inappropriately to commands from law enforcement officers due to physical, emotional or developmental reasons, at the request of a person in the same household.» The stated purpose is to «help prevent misunderstandings in interactions with law enforcement officers that may result in the use of force.»

  • January 28, 2021: Bill introduced (status: dead; may be reintroduced.)

What does it mean for your ECC? 

At this time, the bill is dead, however, it could be resurrected at any time. ECCs can prepare by implementing databases that can provide vital mental health information about callers and help them direct an appropriate response.

The Emergency Health Profile

Residents now have the ability to create a free Emergency Health Profile (www.emergencyprofile.org) to share opt-in medical information with the 911 and first responders in the case of an emergency.

The Emergency Health Profile is a joint initiative with RapidSOS, the world’s first emergency response data platform, The American Heart Association, The American Red Cross, and Direct Relief to encourage people to create a medical profile with critical information that can be accessed by 911 and first responders when an emergency call is initiated. This critical information will enable faster and smarter emergency response and save lives. 

Individuals who create a free emergency health profile at emergencyprofile.org will be able to share pertinent medical and profile information, such as:

  1. Name, DOB, and address
  2. Pre-existing conditions 
  3. Mental health status 
  4. Allergies
  5. Medical notes & prescriptions
  6. COVID-19 status
  7. Emergency contacts

Data from these Emergency Health Profiles is accessible to telecommunicators through RapidSOS Portal, a free solution for ECCs

How ECCs are encouraging health database signups 

It’s not just about the ECC being compliant but encouraging citizens to become compliant as well. How are other ECCs promoting their health databases to encourage sign-ups? See examples from how Richmond and Fairfax 911 centers promote their use of the Emergency Health Profile on he web, direct mail, social posts, and press releases below!

Richmond, VA urges residents to create free EHPs

Richmond, VA urges residents to create free EHPs


Protect yourself and loved ones

Door hangers provided by the City of Richmond, Virginia


Press Release

Local media spreads the word about EHPs


Social Media

Fairfax 911 promotes emergency health profiles


Press Richmond

Local media spreads the word about EHPs


Richmond EHP

Richmond 911 promotes emergency health profiles

As more states move to enact legislation to protect people with mental health conditions, RapidSOS will continue to expand our partner network to give ECCs access to more vital health data for use in emergency situations. Learn more about our health partners here. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]