Don’t be too alarmed by the headline – someone will come when you call 911 starting later this year, but it may not be Emergency Services or law enforcement or a fire truck.
Instead, it could be members of the brand-new Adult Welfare Community Team that’s being set up by the county and will respond to events that don’t require medical specialists or law enforcement officers.
The move is meant to save Guilford County government and other local governments in the area money and time because trained medical professionals, fire fighters and sheriff’s deputies won’t be asked to handle relatively mundane “non-emergency” issues.
Guilford County government, at a cost of about $360,000, is establishing the team of social workers from the county’s Division of Social Services who will handle common recurring issues that aren’t life threatening and don’t require special skills.
The new Community Team will go out and handle the problem and that will allow emergency professionals more freedom to deal with true emergencies.
Elderly people who live alone, for instance, may call for help with simple tasks they can’t perform. Other people may call 911 because, say, the power is out.
In Guilford County, there’s a relatively small group of known callers who dial 911 repeatedly for non-emergency needs – which means that group generates a disproportionate number of calls and reduces the availability first responders have for true emergencies.
The new Community Team will collaborate with Emergency Services and the Guilford County Family Justice Center to respond to non-emergency needs.
The initiative will be funded in the 2023-2024 county budget that takes effect on July 1, but it should take some time to get the program up and running.
According to county documentation regarding the effort, ”The development of this intentional, collaborative approach is expected to enhance care for people who call emergency services for non-emergency situations and reduce the demand on EMS and Fire services.”