Cahoots gains national attention for their work in Eugene and Springfield

Cahoots on the cusp of their 30th anniversary in Eugene/Springfield

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - You may have seen them around town. The mobile, 24-hour White Bird Clinic service Cahoots helps people in crisis situations around Eugene and Springfield.

We spoke with a couple crisis workers fresh off a shift in Eugene to talk about the Cahoots mission and what's to come in the new year.

Over the years, people who struggle with mental illness, addiction or simply have fallen on hard times rely on Cahoots.

Cahoots has been coming to the rescue for people in the community for decades. As the New Year approaches on their 30th year, they have gained national attention for their work.

“We have a much higher call volume these days then we day when I started I think more people are familiar with us,” said CAHOOTS medic and Crisis Worker, Brenton Gicker.

An alternative to 911, Cahoots helps people dealing with mental health problems.

Through a dispatch system, cahoots workers will arrive on the scene to help 24/7.

“During a shift you're going to talk to somebody whose maybe thinking about committing suicide, you're probably going to talk to somebody whose hearing voices or having hallucinations,” said Gicker.

Each team on call is made up of one medic and one crisis worker. They are trained to listen and assist.

“We continue to show up for people whether they are stable or not and we do so for years and years and years,” said CAHOOTS Crisis Worker, Chelsea Swift.

Gicker adds, “Help is badly needed but it doesn't look that it doesn't look like the traditional forms of help.”

“We got called to assist a woman at Walmart and she was staying in a field and she said she'd been sexually assaulted recently.”

According to mental illness policy org, people with mental illnesses are killed by police nearly four times greater than the general public.

Cahoots is designed to be the first line of help for these people or others in crisis.

“We interact with the hospital and we interact with people's doctors and we're in their homes and we're on the streets with them,” said Swift.

Swift says the goal is to have the program concentrate solely on responding to mental health crises so that police can focus on crime.

“We get to be creative we get to look outside the options of jail or the hospital and we get to problem solve.”

Those at Cahoots say they're in the process of setting up walk in clinic for students suffering from mental illnesses. The organization also has plans to expand around the country, down the coast in Roseburg as well as in Olympia, Washington.

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