The city of Madison announced today that the city’s CARES program is expanding, adding a second response team and a second station to serve Madison’s south and west sides.
The new station, located in the old Town of Madison Municipal Building at 2120 Fish Hatchery Road, will allow CARES to serve even more Madison residents, says Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
“This expansion will increase the number of calls that CARES is able to respond to, and this location, particularly being so close to the beltline, will help us reach patients across town and shorten the response times to the south and west sides of Madison,” Rhodes-Conway says.
CARES, or Community Alternative Response Emergency Services, is a multi-agency program, combining the county, city, Madison’s fire and police departments, and Journey Mental Health to dispatch crisis workers and paramedics to certain non-violent 911 calls instead of police.
The teams of 2 are trained in de-escalation, suicide prevention, and trauma-informed care. They are currently stationed at Fire Station 3 on Willy Street, and operate from 11AM to 7PM on weekdays.
While the program originally only answered calls in the city’s central region, around the isthmus, in March they announced that the single Willy Street station would be answering calls throughout all of Madison. Now, only around 40% of CARES calls take place in the central region.
Attorney General Josh Kaul says that even law enforcement like CARES, as it frees up their own time.
“One of the topics that I hear about the most from law enforcement officers in Wisconsin is the need to reform our broken emergency detention system. Across the state, there is a lack of resources to fund crisis response. Law enforcement often find themselves transporting individuals long distances, frequently to places like the Winnebago Health Institute, when they are in crisis,” Kaul says.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway says that CARES has, so far, been a success.
“As of yesterday, CARES has responded to 674 calls, bringing critical help to those experiencing crises in this year of growth and innovation,” Rhodes-Conway says.
Sarah Hendrickson is a social worker with Journey Mental Health. She says the long term goal is to further expand access
“I think long term, we would like to see this become a service that runs 24/7, just like our other emergency response services like police, EMS, and fire. I think that’s a long way down the road, but that’s been our eventual, sky-high goal,” Hendrickson says.
The expanded CARES program is scheduled to go into service next week.
Photo courtesy: City of Madison