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El Paso 988 & 911 combine, unique service

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- It's a partnership that isn't usually found in crisis response -- a combined center offering mental health and emergency support.

But, that's exactly what the citizens of El Paso now have -- a combined 988/911 call center.

The City of El Paso, the local 911 District and Emergence Health have all come together to co-locate mental health professionals with emergency operators.

Under this new system, when a person calls 911 for a mental health emergency -- they will be quickly transferred to a specialist in behavioral health.

By using modern tech, the mental health supporters and 911 call takers can immediately share details about the situation and route the caller to the correct form of help.

Nationwide, 988 call centers have seen concerning trends of disconnected calls. You can find ABC-7's previous coverage here.

Locally, though, Emergence Health says the story is different.

According to figures obtained by ABC-7 -- to date, there have been nearly 25,000 calls answered this year. They're operating every day, every hour.

In 2021, there were over 29,000. The calls went up over a thousand last year. EHN says they expect to answer more than 31,800 calls by January.

The current answer rate is sitting at 82% on all lines -- with 16 Crisis Hotline Specialists working. That's a slight increase over the year before.

The EHN Crisis Center here handles both local calls -- from the numbers routed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline known as 988.

The local hotline has seen over 16,000 so far, and over six thousand 988 routed calls.

Director Scott Calderwood, of the El Paso 911 District, says that the partnership combining the centers here locally here are "unique," and by providing information in real-time improves response work and provide improved services for the whole community.

Avery Martinez is the Be Mindful Reporter for ABC-7, supported in part by Report for America. RFA helps provide reporters for under-covered topics across the country.

Article Topic Follows: Be Mindful

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Avery Martinez


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