Broome County and the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier along with health care agencies are announcing a new effort to provide fast services to people in an emotional crisis, which may be the first of its kind in New York State.

Under the new Mental Health Diversion initiative, instead of sending police and medical resources to every call about a potential suicidal person or someone in emotional crisis, a case may be transferred to United Health Service’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program by phone instead, keeping first responders available for other emergencies.

Officials say sometimes a person in an emotional crisis may just need someone to help talk them their issue, help de-escalate the situation and develop a safety plan without costly transport to an emergency room and insurance bills.  Organizers add, in some cases, insurance doesn’t cover or under-covers mental health costs.

Dispatchers are trained to ask a caller specific questions to determine if the case needs police and Emergency Medical Service response or can be transferred to the CPEP team.

The new program has been operating for about five months.