Utah Senate passes three bills that bolster crisis intervention teams

On Monday, the Utah Senate passed three bills related to expanding crisis intervention training in Utah.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, sponsored Senate Bill 53, which would allow emergency medical service providers to be certified in behavioral health training. Senator Thatcher said while Mobile Crisis Outreach Team intervention is successful in mitigating harm in a mental or behavioral health crisis, there aren’t enough members to cover the need.

“Those Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams are staffed with licensed clinical social workers. And when they are available to respond to a call, there’s a 75 percent chance that the individual is stabilized and sent home. The problem is, we will never have enough MCOT teams to get to every single behavioral call,” he said.

The bill would also add behavioral health specialists to the State Emergency Medical Services Committee. The committee would then work with the Department of Human Services to develop the qualifications EMTs require in order to be licensed as behavioral health specialists.

Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, spoke in support of the bill during floor debate, saying she believes this bill is the best way to implement crisis response teams throughout the state.

“We’re seeing a very rapid increase as our populations grows of accessing adequate, immediate response teams and care…this type of training and certification will allow that to happen and be implemented across the state,” she said.

Two other bills passed out of the senate on Monday that bolster Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams within law enforcement agencies. Senate Bill 47, which was also sponsored by Sen. Thatcher, would create a council to unify best practices across agencies. Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, sponsored Senate Bill 70, which would create an MCOT team for every county in the state.

All three bills passed out of the senate unanimously and are now heading to the House.

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