NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville is piloting its first mental health crisis team that will respond to 911 calls without law enforcement. It’s targeted toward non-violent calls with the goal of reducing response times and lowering the number of mental health patients taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

The team is called “Responders Engaged And Committed to Help” or “REACH” and is a partnership between the Mental Health Cooperative, Metro Government of Nashville, and the Nashville Fire Department’s EMS division.

Michael Randolph, REACH’s program manager, said the city takes nearly 140 non-violent mental health patients to the hospital in an ambulance each week.

When REACH launches on Tuesday, Feb. 14, Randolph said the appropriate 911 calls will be responded to with a masters-level mental health professional and a paramedic from the Nashville Fire Department.

“This program could take some of the burden off of police for these low-level, non-violent, non-acute mental health calls where police don’t have to respond and ambulances don’t have to respond,” said Randolph. “We have exactly what these people in crisis need to meet their needs and get them the right help.” 

During the pilot period, REACH will run Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Randolph noted the city’s Department of Emergency Communications receives the highest call volume during that time.

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He said a successful pilot period would show they’re able to make an impact on mitigating mental health calls and helping both residents and first responders.

“Our main goal is to make that case and expand the program and really create a system of care for mental health crisis in Nashville that really serves the community in the best way possible, and all of the community stakeholders,” said Randolph.