$125K state grant to help fund mobile crisis unit; Missoula fire wins contract

Missoula County on Tuesday signed a grant contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to help fund a mobile crisis unit on a one-year trial basis.

While the $125,000 state grant is good for only one year, both city and county officials said they intend to fund the mobile crisis unit into the future and base the program off data collected in the inaugural year.

Kristen Jordan, manager of the Criminal Justice Services Division, said the Missoula Fire Department was awarded the mobile crisis unit contract.

“We put that out for a request for proposals and the city fire department got the RFP,” Jordan said. “They plan on having teams on the ground this week. They’re moving faster than the bureaucracy is, which is great.”

The mobile crisis unit will respond to calls identified by emergency officials as involving a behavioral health crisis. The unit will respond to calls deemed safe by dispatch or first responders and cover an area within 20 minutes of the downtown core.

Jordan said the crisis unit will include mental health professionals from Partnership Health Center and a qualified Emergency Medical Technician.

“The fire department has hired PHC as a third party contractor to provide the mental health professionals for the mobile crisis team,” Jordan said. “It’ll be a pretty dynamic duo. They’re getting it done.”

The pilot program will collect as much data as possible over the first 10 months to determine where and how it may evolve. A portion of the data will determine if the crisis unit should operate around the clock, seven days a week.

According to Jordan, existing data suggests the unit isn’t needed at that level just yet. The program will be tailored to meet local needs as the data becomes clear.

Both the city and county have contributed to the pilot program in their Fiscal Year 21 budgets – and to match the state grant. Long term funding for the mobile crisis unit will be required in next year’s budgets.