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Care response services

There are many tools that can help our community respond to moments of crisis.

What is crisis response?

Crisis response is an on-scene response that can de-escalate a crisis situation.


We most often talk about alternative crisis response in the areas of mental health, substance use or withdrawal, and suicidality, though other categories of non-violent interpersonal and personal crisis can be included. 

There is a spectrum of responses available to respond to any given crisis.

Care response is one type of crisis response-- and it is different from cop response or co-response.


A call for help is responded to by police. This is our current response structure. A regular patrol  car might respond, or a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) car might respond. 


Police respond to a call accompanied by a non-police specialist, most often a social worker or healthcare worker.


Trained specialists respond to a call without any police presence. Responders could be EMTs, nurses, behavioral health specialists, or crisis interventionists.

Why are there different types of responders?

You wouldn't use a hammer to paint a wall, or a paintbrush to secure a nail! You would use the right tool to meet the need you and your family face.

The same thing is true in crisis intervention: not every tool in our toolbox is right in every crisis. 

When a community member is facing a crisis in health, they need different tools than police might be able to provide. While the police are the right first responders for some incidents, many communities have created other solutions for incidents involving mental health, behavioral health, addiction, suicidality, and other non-violent issues.

Who decides what type of response is needed?

A lot of new expertise is needed to guide a care response program. Most care response programs across the country rely on the same 911 communications infrastructure that any other public safety program in the area uses. Dispatchers are then trained on different types of responders and programming, and they can decide-- based on the information gathered on any given call-- who the right first responders will be. 

If not the police force, then who responds to crisis calls?

Care response programs vary widely across the country, as each region learns more about what the community faces and what the community wants most in crisis response.

For northeast Ohio, care program responders could include:

  • Social workers, like in the Shaker Heights co-response pilot, which includes social workers from Recovery Resources as a telehealth resource alongside police on mental and behavioral health calls.

  • Paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, and other non-police first responders.

  • Healthcare specialists, particularly those who work in mental health, behavioral health, addiction services, or detox services. 

  • Peer response specialists, providing wraparound care for the days after a crisis call who can assist an individual or family in continuing to access resources in the community.

What is the methodology behind non-police crisis response?

The Sequential Intercept Model

Developed by the US Department of Health & Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Sequential Intercept Model helps map out how people interact with various systems and the ways that new program ideas can target specific areas of intercept to improve outcomes for community members.

You can find the complete explanation on the SAMHSA website.

Thank you to the Center for Community Solutions for this graphic:

The intercept model lays out a way of looking at each stage of interaction a community member might have with crisis and criminal response programming. In order for us to have a fully capable system, we need each stage of intercept to have fully funded and fully resourced teams and programs. 

What is Intercept Zero?

Intercept Zero means we are looking at programming that serves our community BEFORE the criminal justice system gets involved. At Intercept Zero, our neighbors are asking for assistance and know they are in need of resources, and we have the opportunity to provide those resources before further consequences take place.

What are the benefits of focusing on Intercept Zero?

As we can see in the Sequential Intercept Model, there are many types of programs that might help deliver the resources or solutions someone needs to resolve a crisis.

When we focus on Intercept Zero, the immediate response to a crisis, we can prevent more of our neighbors from having to interact with the criminal justice system. 


With more options, more responders, and more resources at Intercept Zero, we can divert more of our neighbors from having to interact with more harmful and drastic measures further down the road.

  • We can help our neighbors stay out of the jails and prevent people being held up by bail and other issues when they need healthcare, and not a criminal response. 

  • We can help our neighbors access healthcare services when they face mental and behavioral health needs, instead of forcing our neighbors into the jails and criminal response structures. 

  • Improved response at Intercept Zero can also help our city, county, and state save money on criminal justice system expenses.

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