In the late 1990s, there were crisis call centers across the country, but they were fragmented and lacked credibility with even suicide prevention advocates. Staffed with volunteers, these poorly funded programs lacked technology, data-tracking tools, and consistent protocols. Many questioned whether there were outcomes that warranted the investment, meager though it was at the time.
15 years later research by the University of Quebec at Montreal, Rutgers and Columbia have changed everything. Standardized protocols are used internationally, and funders are investing millions in statewide, advanced crisis call centers that coordinate care and create more efficient flows and access to needed services.
Air Traffic Control IS the beginning of professional orientation for all levels of crisis services, including mobile crisis and facility services like crisis stabilization and crisis respite. It’s also an effort to begin thinking about these services as parts of a whole, integrated systems of care.
Air Traffic Control aspires to identify the next generation of integrated crisis systems and what essential components are required:
- 24/7 clinical coverage with identifiable single contact point covering a defined region
- Ability to deploy mobile crisis, control of access to sufficient range and diversity of sub-acute alternatives (respite, etc), and ability to secure same day/next day outpatient clinical services
- Legally and clinically sufficient personnel to be able to make triage decisions, preferably including control of acute inpatient access
- Clear expectations for routine emergent care for the outpatient clinical providers that interface with crisis care
Here’s what Air Traffic Control IS NOT:
- A belief that human beings can be routed like objects
- An effort to force a one-size-fits-all approach on unique geographies, demographics, funding streams, and behavioral healthcare systems