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Hochul signs legislation to provide addiction & mental health services training for first responders


Sat, May 7th 2022 10:50 am

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday signed legislation S.07144/A.07686 providing addiction and mental health services training, including crisis intervention team training, mental health first aid, implicit bias and naloxone training, to firefighters and emergency medical services personnel in regions where crisis stabilization centers are located.

"I am proud to sign this legislation that will provide our brave first responders with the tools needed to assist New Yorkers who struggle with mental health and addiction," Hochul said. "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."

Hochul’s team said, “This bill will ensure that the appropriate emergency services personnel complete the most up-to-date training in issues related to addiction and mental health issues. This training is needed to address the growing mental health crisis, and will be especially necessary in catchment areas of crisis stabilization centers.

“According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, drug overdoses and suicides have overtaken traffic accidents as the two leading causes of death among Americans ages 25 to 44. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also states that suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in New York. In 2020, for every 100,000 New Yorkers, approximately eight people lost their life to suicide; it is the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34 years old; and for individuals between the ages of 35 and 54, suicide is the fourth-leading cause of death.

“Over the past several years, New York state has developed a comprehensive mental health crisis response system, which includes short-term crisis residences, crisis respite services, comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs (CPEPs), mobile crisis teams, and crisis intervention training. Last year's state budget authorized the establishment of crisis stabilization centers to divert individuals away from hospitalization if they are experiencing or at risk of a mental health crisis, including through the voluntary transport of individuals by law enforcement and emergency medical services. The training required by this bill is a critical tool in ensuring crisis stabilization centers are fully utilized.”

Also, in 2020, Congress enacted the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act, which established 9-8-8 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This new hotline is expected to be implemented in New York by July. The governor’s team said it will be “a critical component of the comprehensive crisis response system for suicide and mental health issues, equivalent to ‘9-1-1’ for medical, fire and public safety emergencies.

“Gov. Hochul secured $35 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year to significantly expand call center capacity throughout New York state, increasing to $60 million on a full annual basis. In addition, New York was recently awarded $7.2 million by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support this transition.”

New York State Sen. James Sanders Jr. said, "First responders are essential to providing emergency assistance to New Yorkers during times of crisis, so it only makes sense that they be given training to help people with addiction and mental health issues. As their name indicates, first responders are first to encounter time-sensitive scenarios where fast action is needed in order to save lives. Based on the increasing demand for mental health crisis services, it is essential to ensure that emergency personnel have the appropriate training so they can effectively respond to a mental health crisis. I commend the governor in providing these brave heroes with even more of the tools they need to save lives."

Assembly member Mathylde Frontus said, "Since the beginning of the pandemic, emergency responders have faced a drastic and overwhelming increase in calls related to mental health issues. It is more critical than ever that EMS personnel have the proper crisis intervention training before responding to a mental health crisis. This legislation will help ensure our first responders have the training and skills needed to better assist New Yorkers during their time of need. I appreciate Gov. Hochul recognizing the need for this legislation and signing it into law."

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