WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The ICT-1 team is now just a few weeks away from being evaluated to see if it will become a permanent fixture in Sedgwick County.
“We have seen 162 patients and that has freed up more than 110 police cars and 75 fire units,” said Integrated Care Team coordinator Malachi Winters. “Those units are now prepared for other emergencies that aren’t mental health calls.”
Winters is the program manager for Sedgwick County EMS and says the 90 day pilot program is doing exactly what it is tasked to do.
“Take pressure off 911 calls and provide mental health services out in the field,” said Winters.
The team is comprised of a deputy from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office or Wichita police, along with a paramedic and mental health professional. Paramedics come from Wichita fire or county fire. The team members rotate from different departments.
The team also draws support from Sedgwick County Communications and COMCARE of Sedgwick County.
KSN talked to Drew Agenw on his shift with ICT-1.
“That’s kind of our goal is to relieve some of the call volume,” said Paramedic Drew Agnew with Wichita Fire. “It’s helping the person and helping the families. A lot of times they’re (family) kind of at their last resort. They don’t what else to do. So when they call us, we’re making sure we’re getting that individual the right resources they need. Get them the help that they need.”
Agnew says sometimes that means taking a person to COMCARE of Wichita. But many times they treat a person in place when they meet the 911 caller or family members.
Winters says the bulk of what the team is able to do in the field is make the right call to alleviate immediate mental health concerns.
“About half of the calls ICT-1 goes on, we are able to treat in place. Usually with verbal support, sometimes with education, sometimes with contacting family members and getting them involved,” said Winters. “Other times it’s making appointments. But that’s really one of the main goals that we are wanting to do with this, is bring those resources out to the people in the community and treat them in place rather than (transporting) to an emergency room or to the crisis center.”
KSN also met with Deputy Kyle Broussard with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. Kyle spends time on the computer before the team goes out. Sometimes they respond to 911 calls. Other times they are looking at current 911 calls to see where their team can do the most good.
“So, I will look at the system, we will look to see what calls can use us most,” said Broussard. “So I look at all the calls in the towns in the county. We are able to help all kinds of different people.”
And Broussard says they have already seen some people multiple times.
“There are some that have been seen twice, because we’ve gotten called out to them. And there’s some that we have seen more than once or twice because we have reached back out to them,” said Broussard.
Following up with a person can also help reduce the number of 911 calls, said Broussard.
“This is a lot different pace for me compared to going out and dealing with crime or speed violations,” said Broussard. “We can spend an hour or more on one call. This takes time. But we know we are making a difference for people needing mental health help. And families, too.”
Winters says there are days when they could use a second team.
“Many days, actually.” said Winters. “But we will evaluate how we are doing and what kind of a difference we are making at the end of the 90 day trial time. But I’d say it’s definitely working.”