The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District (SBCoFPD) has partnered with the San Bernardino Police Department (SBPD) and the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) to provide a new level of care for members of the community who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST2) is a multi-disciplined crisis response team created to address the increasing numbers of homeless and permanent residents that suffer from mental illness.

On July 1, 2021, COAST1 went into service in the City of Fontana. During their first year, the team made contact with nearly 700 individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Each of these contacts alleviated the call volume on fire/emergency medical services (EMS) and law enforcement in the city. The program has proven successful since its first day of service.

In March 2023, COAST2 went into service in the City of San Bernardino. Modeled after the COAST1 program in the City of Fontana, the team provides behavioral health services, EMS, and a law enforcement response. SBCoFPD Captain Paul Kramer serves on COAST2 along with Cooper, one of the fire district’s CARE Team therapy dogs. Captain Kramer is part of a three-person team that responds to mental health calls for service by residents, as well as the unhoused population.

Therapy dogs like Cooper often alleviate the hesitancy that a person in crisis may have towards encountering law enforcement and fire/EMS personnel. This technique can deescalate a potentially dangerous incident and allow the behavioral health personnel to offer services that will help address the needs of the person in crisis. Next, the patient can be transferred to the appropriate mental health facility where the county’s behavioral health team can provide continuous care. The goal of providing ongoing support lowers the likelihood that COAST2, law enforcement, or fire/EMS personnel would need to respond should another crisis occur. The patient will have resources to help them cope with a future mental health crisis. This approach also helps keep the patient out of jail and emergency rooms.

“We are proud to partner with the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health and San Bernardino Police Department in supporting the COAST2 program in the City of San Bernardino,” stated Fire Chief Dan Munsey. “Since the launch of COAST2 in early March, the team has responded to over a hundred calls in the City of San Bernardino. These interventions have been successful in providing many of our patients with mental health services that are best equipped to help them during a crisis. The men and women of the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District are grateful to the COAST1 team and the City of Fontana for helping develop a model of mental health crisis intervention that has proven to serve our residents and their communities with compassion and respect.”

The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District encourages residents who are suffering from or encounter someone suffering from a mental health crisis to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 9-8-8. If you feel someone is in immediate danger, a threat to themselves or other people, or you are unsure of how to handle a potentially dangerous situation, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Additional County Update News – June 16, 2023

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