SPRINGFIELD — Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno are pleased to report that civilians in the city assisted a woman in distress this morning, possibly saving the woman’s life.
At approximately 9:45 a.m. Friday, the City of Springfield’s Emergency Communications Department began receiving 911 calls about a woman who climbed over the railing of the Memorial Bridge near the Springfield and West Springfield line.
As police officers and the department’s Behavioral Health Clinician co-responders were responding to the bridge, several civilians immediately stopped their cars and got out and pulled the woman back to safety. The initial investigation indicates that the woman may have been attempting to commit suicide. The entire incident was captured on the Springfield Police Department’s Real-Time Analysis Center cameras as crime analysts relayed information to responding officers.
“These good Samaritans did an incredible job working together to pull the distressed woman back to safety. I want to thank them for their selfless actions today,” Commissioner Clapprood said. “The mental health crisis we face today is why I am such an advocate for our crisis intercept program, which has trained clinician co-responders to respond with our police officers during mental health calls. In this case, multiple good Samaritans took quick action prior to their arrival and our responders were able to provide assistance once they got on scene. Our co-responders will now work with clinicians at the hospital to help the woman get the care and assistance she needs.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Thank you to these good Samaritans for coming to this woman’s rescue. Thanks to their quick and selfless actions they were able to help and keep her safe until the arrival of our SPD and health care professionals. Mental health is a serious concern. I want to applaud Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and the brave and dedicated men and women in blue for their continued and unyielding efforts working with our BHN partners in addressing mental health calls. Our Crisis Intercept program is extremely successful in responding to crisis calls and getting individuals the help and assistance they need from our mental health providers and clinicians. Again, way to go and thank you to these good Samaritans for possibly saving this woman’s life and keeping her safe until help could arrive.”
The woman was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. The Behavioral Health Clinician co-responder will exchange critical information with the staff in the hospital.
In November of 2019, the Springfield Police Department began piloting a new program (Crisis Intercept) with mental health partners at Behavioral Health Network. There are now six BHN co-responders who work directly with the Springfield Police Department Metro Unit officers on crisis and mental health calls.
When responding to mental health calls, officers often find that the person they are assisting has a mental health provider and if given the option, would rather speak to a clinician than a police officer or ambulance personnel.
Each day the clinicians report to the Metro Office and notify SPD Dispatch that they are in service and ready to respond to calls. As a 911 call for service comes in involving issues of mental health and/or crisis, dispatch will call a BHN clinician or the clinician will notify dispatch that they will respond to the scene of the call.
The program is called Crisis Intercept because the traditional response of sending the closest police cruiser remains the primary protocol. Adding the additional expertise of a certified clinician significantly increases the quality of response in many cases. With the ever-increasing volume of crisis and mental health calls, the Springfield Police Department is finding that the availability of the clinicians is finite and they continuously look to expand the program as it has now grown from one co-responder to six.