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City leaders say pilot program for mental health, addiction 911 calls shows early success

The Alternative Response Pilot Program tested alternative responses to 911 callers suffering from mental health crises and addiction issues.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city leaders announced Thursday its initial success on a pilot program that addresses the needs of 911 callers for non-emergency incidents, such as mental health crises and addiction issues. 

The Alternative Response Pilot Program was introduced by the city in May. The Pod, which consisted of a paramedic, public health clinician and dispatcher, worked together to review the best response to non-emergency 911 calls, with such calls routed to the team as they come. 

Ginther and city leaders held a press conference Thursday to present the data collected over a span of 72 hours from June 7-July 2. 

You can watch the press conference below:

According to a release from the city, results showed 62.5% of calls the pilot group received did not require immediate police or fire dispatch. Results also showed 48% of them were either fully resolved by the Pod or redirected to local community resources.

The release also stated the pilot group was able to de-escalate situations, provide information and communicate with first responders.

During the press conference, Ginther said there are plans to expand the Pod’s hours of operation and build follow-up units.