UW Partnership

SB 5644 has created a partnership between the Co-Responder Outreach Alliance and the University of Washington School of Social Work to develop training for co-response teams (fire/EMS and police) and promote skills and best practices. In 2022-2023, our UW partners surveyed the 60+ co-response programs across the state in fire and police departments to identify trends, goals, needs, and best practices. They also hosted Washington State’s first co-response retreat, which offered advanced skills classes and instruction on wellness practices.

In 2023-2024, the UW is working with CROA to develop crisis intervention training specific to co-response and hosted an April 2024 retreat.



May 2, 2024


Nine fire departments from across Washington State have been selected to receive grants to start or expand a co-response program and more effectively serve residents experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

The Co-Responder Outreach Alliance (CROA), in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Social Work, announced the availability of $2.8 million in grant opportunities in February 2024. The purpose of this funding is to encourage the development of fire-based co-response programs within the emergency response system and bring together critical, multi-disciplinary approaches to address complex medical and behavioral health needs in the field. The grant also aims to spur innovation in key areas to strengthen Washington’s crisis care continuum and will pilot high-quality training for firefighters and EMS personnel who currently lack a systemic approach in working with individuals experiencing behavioral health needs.

Grant recipients in each of the Innovation Strategy Areas are grouped into cohorts, facilitating opportunities to partner, collaborate and share best practices. 


Innovation area:  Becoming a behavioral health agency and billing for co-response services

Tacoma Fire Dept.

Kitsap CARES (led by Central Kitsap and Poulsbo Fire Departments)

Clark Cowlitz Fire Dept.


Innovation area:  Administering medications for opioid use disorder in the field

South County Fire Dept.

Port Angeles Fire Dept.

Walla Walla Fire Dept.

Spokane Fire Dept.


Innovation area:  Aligning with 988 and/or developing a crisis response team

Clark Cowlitz Fire Dept.

North Mason Fire Dept.


New program in an area without co-response

Riverside-Centralia Fire Dept.


Co-response programs are embedded within the emergency response system in some cities and counties where emergency personnel (police/fire/EMS) respond alongside behavioral health or other healthcare professionals to calls involving a person experiencing behavioral health issues and complex medical needs.

It is estimated that over 20% of all 911 calls are related to mental health and substance use issues. Additionally, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, only 4% of all reported fire department runs are fire related while the remainder are calls involving health and behavioral health issues. Behavioral health professionals, embedded in first responder agencies, bring critical assessment and communication skills to crisis situations that can de-escalate volatile events and connect clients to needed services and support.     

For more information, visit www.croawa.com.  For questions, please contact Silje Sodal at croawa@gmail.com or 206-550-5626.

Resource: Co-Response: An Essential Crisis Service – A Landscape Analysis for the WA State Legislature (June 2023)