CAHOOTS expands service into Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - CAHOOTS is now expanding to Springfield.

Lane County secured special grant funding form the Oregon Health Authority last fall.

The County along with White Bird Clinic and the City of Springfield persuaded the state for the hefty funding.

The $318,000 grant was enough to purchase a new van, to buy new equipment and to staff a medic and crisis worker onboard.

CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets) is a mobile crisis intervention team.

The team will now be integrated into Eugene and Springfield's public safety system.

"We can have trained effective service that can provide services to the folks that really need it," Springfield's management analyst Neil Obringer said Wednesday. "It's going to be visible and felt by the whole community."

The grant is effective through June of 2015.

White Bird Clinic coordinator Chuck Gerard says the clinic and county will pursue opportunities to keep the funding available.

Formed in 1989, CAHOOTS provides a broad range of services including crisis intervention, counseling, mediation and transportation to social services, like the Eugene Mission, hospitals, White Bird Clinic and detox clinics.

Gerard says the new service will likely alleviate call volumes for Springfield emergency response crews.

"If springfield police officer is dealing with a situation and it changes into a human services situation or mental health or substance abuse problem, they can call us in to assist."

Gerard says CAHOOTS crews are specially trained to work with patients suffering from mental illness, while police and EMS personnel may not.

Matthew Eads has been a CAHOOTS EMT for seven years.

"When they realize we aren't the cops and we're not going to grab them or hurt them, they listen to us and they hear us out."

Wednesday was the second day of service CAHOOTS in Springfield.

Eads said they had already been dispatched to several calls.

The Dodge Sprinter van is modified to keep the victims and crews safe.

A plexiglass partition separates the drivers from the victims. There extra cabinet and cargo room and sports a captain seat for trainees and ride-along participants.

The van is owned by Lane County.

Obringer says the service is cost-saving for the city.

He also expects the number of emergency room visits to drop and the quality of life in Springfield to improve.

CAHOOTS in Springfield will operate from noon to 11:30p.m., 7 days a week, every day of the year.

CAHOOTS Metro can be accessed by anyone in the Springfield and Glenwood areas by calling the Springfield Police non-emergency number at (541) 726-3714.

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