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Rockford Fire Department Piloting New Mental Health Transport Destination

When a person calls 911 while experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis, the only place state law currently allows the ambulance to transport them is to a local emergency room. The Rockford Fire Department is hoping to soon change that. With approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the department will be piloting a program where those patients will be transported to the Rosecrance Mulberry Center. The Rockford Fire Department is only the second fire department in the state to pilot this new alternative facility destination procedure “The Emergency Room is often not the best place for these individuals,” explains Bob Vertiz, Division Chief of Training. “Our goal in offering a transport to Rosecrance is to get them to the proper care as quickly as possible.” In 2018, the Rockford Fire Department responded to a total of 950 mental health transports. Patients in a mental health crisis who meet certain criteria, including having no underlying medical conditions, are eligible to be transported to Rosecrance. In 2018, the number of potential transports to Rosecrance would have been more than 350. The Rosecrance Mulberry Center combines two closely linked programs—triage and crisis residential—under one roof. These voluntary programs are designed to provide an immediate response to people experiencing psychiatric crisis. The goal of these programs is to help people avoid unnecessary hospitalization or incarceration by providing rapid evaluation, intervention, crisis counseling, and referral to the appropriate level of care when it is most needed. Last night, the Finance and Personnel Committee approved the agreement with Rosecrance. It will go to the full City Council on Monday, April 15.

Strategic Communications Manager, Laura Maher, from City of Rockford

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