New Approach To Crisis Calls In Sedgwick County On Hold

Nov 7, 2019

A special first responder team is no longer available in Sedgwick County to handle 911 calls that involve a mental health crisis.

A representative for the county says the Integrated Care Team, known as ICT-1, ended a trial period last week, and is disbanded for now while city and county leaders decide whether to move forward with the program.

The team consisted of a law enforcement officer, a paramedic and a mental health professional who traveled together to respond to emergency calls that had a mental health component. The team was on duty Tuesday through Friday in 10-hour shifts that ended at midnight.

ICT-1 program manager Malachi Winters provided an update on the program at a Sedgwick County staff meeting last month. He said the team responded to more than 150 emergency calls during the three-month pilot program.

“A lot of these patients will take several hours to really work all the way through the case, and then the documentation that goes along with that,” Winters said.

He said the team was able to offer treatment on site for a majority of the calls instead of transporting the patient to a hospital emergency room. ICT-1 also helped connect people in crisis with community resources such as substance abuse treatment or mental health services.

“We have prevented 80 trips to the crisis unit at Comcare," Winters said, "so we’re making an impact on the system."

The program is a collaborative effort supported by the Wichita Fire Department, Sedgwick County Fire District 1, Wichita Police Department, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services, Sedgwick County Emergency Communications and COMCARE of Sedgwick County.

Each participating public agency donated personnel time, equipment and resources from their existing budget to implement the 90-day trial period.

Winters said having the ICT-1 team available freed up officers, ambulances and fire trucks for other 911 emergencies.

City of Wichita and Sedgwick County leaders are reviewing the program to decide whether to make it permanent.

Sedgwick County’s 2020 budget already includes funding to continue the ICT-1 team. County commissioners are expected to consider the program at a meeting later this month.