First Responders to Receive Mental Health First Aid Training

First Responders to Receive Mental Health First Aid Training

By Yehudit Garmaise

New York firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) providers who work near crisis stabilization centers will receive up-to-date training in addiction, mental health first aid, and crisis intervention thanks to a bill that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed on May 6.

The bill is part of the governor’s efforts to “address the growing mental health crisis,” she said.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, emergency responders have faced drastic and overwhelming increases in calls related to mental health issues,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who represents southern Brooklyn and Coney Island. “It is more critical than ever that EMS personnel have the proper crisis intervention training before responding to mental health crises.” 

Sadly, drug overdoses and suicides have overtaken traffic accidents as the leading causes of death among Americans ages 25 to 44, the National Council for Behavioral Health reported.

Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in New York, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stated.

In July, New York will implement 988 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which Congress enacted in 2020. 

Like Americans call 911 for medical, fire, and public safety emergencies, 988 is planned to be the place to call for mental health emergencies.

In her 2022-23 fiscal year budget, Gov. Hochul secured $35 million for New York to significantly expand call center capacity statewide.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently awarded New York $7.2 million to further support this transition the new call line.

"The pandemic has only made things harder for New Yorkers, and it is critical that our first responders and emergency services personnel have the proper training, tools, and resources to help keep our streets and subways safe," Gov. Hochul said. 

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