Frequently Asked Questions about CESSA (the Community Emergency Services and Support Act)
Q: Has CESSA gotten support from local community mental health organizations (e.g. Thresholds, C4)?
A: Yes. These organizations will be involved in creating any alternative response system that is developed as part of CESSA.
Q: How will 911 operators determine what type of resources to send in response to a reported emergency situation?
A: The bill (CESSA) prohibits the use of police officers in any manner that they wouldn’t be used in any other health emergency. Police officers aren’t sent to respond to a broken leg; an ambulance is. Under CESSA, that concept would also apply to mental and behavioral health emergencies. In the vast majority of situations, we expect this to result in only CESSA responders arriving at the scene of an emergency. There are several tools currently in use in call centers in other parts of the country that assess if a police officer is also needed. Each EMS Region in Illinois will be required to adopt a tool like this in accordance with the needs of their particular communities, subject to other requirements in the bill.
Q: Is there support and funding for these services? Is there support from legislators?
A: By reducing the need for hospitalizations and institutionalizations, mobile crisis response systems like the one proposed in CESSA cost less than the savings they garner.
Q: How are mental health professionals prevented from becoming punitive?
A: Under CESSA, responders are required to be trained and that training must, at a minimum, teach de-escalization techniques, availability of community services, and respect for the dignity and autonomy of the individuals being served.
Q: What happens if a mental health professional gets injured when responding to a crisis?
A: In the communities where this service already exists, it is rare for responders to request for police back up, let alone sustain an injury. In the rare situations where an injury is threatened, this bill does permit CESSA responders to call for back up.