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County co-responder program highlighted at national conference

Photo: Chief of Patrol Adam Musgrove, left, and Ana Johnson, program manager of the Chelan County Behavioral Health Unit, spoke recently at the 2022 National Co-Responder Conference in Chapel Hill, N.C.

 

Representatives of the Chelan County Behavioral Health Unit and the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office spoke recently at the 2022 National Co-Responder Conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., about how other rural agencies can establish co-responder programs.

Speaking on behalf of the Behavioral Health Unit was Ana Johnson, program manager. Chief of Patrol Adam Musgrove spoke on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office.

Held June 6-8, the National Co-Responder Conference brings together law enforcement agencies and mental health professionals from 25 states. More than 300 people attended the conference. Co-responders are social workers or mental health professionals who respond to calls for service alongside law enforcement officials.

The county’s presentation, titled Helping the Hidden: Implementation of Rural Co-Responder Programs, focused on how to establish a co-responder program, the challenges and successes of Chelan County’s program, patrol buy-in, and community response. Chelan County is the first county in North Central Washington to establish and develop a co-responder program; its program was established in 2021.

“One lesson I wanted attendees to take away from the presentation is the importance of co-response in rural communities,” Johnson said. “Rural communities are impacted by the availability and accessibility of services. Many times, we find ourselves in the deep pockets and canyons of the Wenatchee Valley, outreaching to individuals who seldomly have the means, transportation or support to get needed care. I wanted to share our story and the proactive work that Chelan County and the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office have done to change the response model to meet the requests of our citizens and our work fields.”

Johnson added that the most important lesson for attendees lies in the presentation’s title.

“When I first created the presentation, I focused on how to help the hidden residents of the community, but then I realized that helping the hidden also reflects on helping our own first responders,” she said. “In our professions, we are the first to provide help and often the last to seek support. We need to change the narrative – and we are. What better time to address the importance of first responder wellness than at a national conference.”

Last Updated: 06/10/2022 12:45 PM

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