More about Co-response

Program Goals & Services: To serve people experiencing behavioral health crisis in their communities as much as possible, providing care in the least restrictive environment through a coordinated system-wide approach, facilitating alternatives to arrest and emergency department use, relieving first responders after emergent issues are resolved, and reducing the potential for harm.

Co-response offers several essential elements and services. Some teams offer on-scene crisis response, specifically, crisis de-escalation, brief screening and assessment, brief intervention, transportation, and call disposition planning. Some teams offer follow-up services to facilitate crisis prevention, transportation, referral and linkage to community services, peer support, and care coordination with systems of care.


Approaches: Co-response programs are based in police, fire/EMS, EMS or public safety departments. Co-responders may work directly for these departments, behavioral health agencies or serve as contracted employees.  Co-response teams are dispatched by 911 and/or first responders, ideally, in close collaboration with 988.  They are generally three approaches: 1) a first responder and behavioral health professionals ride together in the same vehicle for an entire shift; 2) the behavioral health professional is called to the scene and the call is handled together; 3) the behavioral health professional receives a referral from a first responder and follows-up after the call.  It is a flexible, collaborative approach that can meet community needs for rapid response, even in rural and frontier areas.


Co-response is also referred to in WA statute as mental health field response and is sometimes referred to as mobile integrated health.  Not all co-response is behavioral health co-response but this approach is increasingly popular.