Expansion of Louisville’s Deflection Program Marks Milestone Progress

Nicole Wiseman

Nicole Wiseman, the Unit Manager for the Deflection Team at Seven Counties Services.

Seven Counties Services is thrilled to announce the latest developments in the ongoing growth of the Crisis Call Diversion Program (CCDP) in Louisville. Also referred to as the Deflection Program, this initiative facilitates the redirection of specific 911 calls to a trained Crisis Triage Worker (CTW) from Seven Counties Services, providing support to all eight divisions of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).

The goal of the Deflection Program is to minimize LMPD interventions in cases related to behavioral health, directing these calls to a more suitable resource equipped to deliver immediate and professional responses to behavioral health crises. This strategic shift enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of LMPD resources. Most notably, the program aims to reduce the incarceration or hospitalization of individuals grappling with behavioral health issues, promoting a more compassionate and effective approach to crisis response. 

Growth of the Deflection Program  

The Deflection Program launched in March 2022 and has grown from serving a single LMPD division to serving all eight LMPD divisions. As of Sunday, February 4, 2024, service hours once again expanded and now operate from 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM, seven days a week.

Since its launch, the Deflection Program has resulted in more than 2,700 CTW encounters, with the average encounter lasting about 16 minutes, though some can last up to an hour. In 2023 alone, the MetroSafe 911 Center deflected more than 1,800 calls to a non-police response. The Mobile Crisis Response Team made more than 700 mobile runs to help nearly 500 unique individuals, with the average mobile encounter lasting about 40 minutes in duration.

Seven Counties Services has been serving the greater Louisville area for nearly 50 years. Though the services are not new to the community, the entry point is. Never before have community members experiencing a mental health crisis been able to call 911 and be directly connected to a behavioral health provider right in the 911 call center. 

Nicole Wiseman, the Unit Manager for the Deflection Team at Seven Counties Services, spoke at a press conference on January 30 and shared lessons learned and feedback that continue to shape how the program will mindfully and intentionally move forward. This included describing how community members can utilize the Deflection Program.

How to Utilize Deflection  

When someone contacts 911 and they’re experiencing a behavioral health emergency, they can request to speak with deflection, or that option may be suggested to them. Once the 911 call taker determines that the person hasn’t already taken steps to harm themselves, isn’t actively threatening with a weapon, and there isn’t any other violence taking place on-site, the call can be transferred over to CTWs. The CTWs work out of the primary 911 call center and work alongside 911 call takers and dispatchers to serve all eight divisions. They provide de-escalation and offer resources, including the Mobile Crisis Response Team, who can go out and meet the person where they are.  

The Mobile Crisis Response Team will further the de-escalation, problem-solve, and offer resources. One of the resources they offer is transportation to anywhere within the county. If they need to go to the hospital, the team can take them there, though they are always trying to work toward the lowest level of care appropriate for the individual. That could look like another community resource or even natural support like a family member or friend if they could help keep that person safe and stable. 

The Deflection Team also has a case manager that follows up after an acute crisis to see if the individual got what they needed while they were in crisis. They also help connect them to ongoing resources to mitigate and potentially prevent the next crisis.  

“Our team meets the client where they are, literally and figuratively, hence why one of the program’s main components is that it is voluntary,” said Nicole. “Decisions are made with the person in crisis and not for the person in crisis.” 

Additionally, Nicole elaborated that each intervention should be the least invasive and least restrictive option. If a person just needs to talk with someone, they can do that, and the interaction might end with the CTW.  

“We see it as a success if the person is de-escalated and feels safe enough that the team doesn’t have to come out,” she said. “Or if the team goes out and the person is able to remain safely in their home and not need transport, we also see that as a success.”  

With each interaction, the Deflection Team members leave the individual with a plan and next steps, including who they can call if something happens again. The Deflection Team also frequently partners with the Seven Counties Services 988 Crisis and Information Center and is in communication with them daily.

Help the Deflection Team Grow  

At Seven Counties Services, we know we cannot do this work alone. Our Deflection Team works closely with other providers within our region and other community programs to ensure that individuals in crisis receive the best care and support possible.  

We are continually looking at additional ways to expand the program to ensure that community members experiencing a behavioral health crisis get the right response at the right time from the right responder. This includes expanding our resource list. If there are providers that would like to be added, please get in touch by emailing nwiseman@sevencounties.org. 

We currently have 34 staff on the Deflection Team, with many being part-time/PRN. We still need more staff to continue expansion so we can reach our goal of providing 24/7 coverage to the entire county. Members of our fantastic Deflection Team come to this work with a variety of lived and professional experiences in mental health, substance use, and houselessness.  

If you would like to join our growing team, please visit our careers site and search ‘deflection.’ Starting a journey with Seven Counties Services is more than a career – it’s a purpose!

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Seven Counties Services serves everyone regardless of diagnosis or insurance status. We ensure that getting started on your journey to recovery is as easy as possible. To schedule your first appointment, you can call directly or complete an online appointment request.

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