This brief provides public-safety-answering-point (PSAP) administrators with key elements for expanding their first-response options, along with examples of how some jurisdictions have used these elements in enacting new dispatch and call triaging protocols.
Traditional first-response options have usually included police officers, the fire department, and emergency medical services (E$MS) personnel, with one or more being dispatched to respond to calls made to 911; however, jurisdictions across the United States are increasingly expanding their first-response options to develop a network of crisis responses that better addresses the needs of their communities. These have included models such as co-responder teams, homeless outreach teams, mobile crisis units, and opioid response teams. When multiple-response teams are available to address a call, it is critical that PSAP staff properly identify and match the caller’s needs with the right team. All new response teams must be integrated into the local dispatch system, which requires that call takers be equipped with the information and training they need to route calls to responders other than police officers or fire department and EMS staff. The key integration elements discussed in this brief are 1) planning collaboratively on initial assessment; 2) developing new dispatch protocols with PSAP personnel; and 3) training. This brief lists the topics that should be covered in the training and the questions that should be addressed under each topic. The training topics are the structure of the new team, specializations of the team, inclusion/exclusion criteria, and ongoing coordination. Brief case studies are provided of jurisdictions that have implemented new dispatch and call triaging protocols. Additional resources are listed.