After more than a year providing aid for homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues across downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, Seattle Fire’s Health One is adding a second unit to expand its reach across new parts of the city.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and SFD Chief Harold Scoggins announced the expansion of the innovative program Tuesday.
“Seattle has pioneered community safety initiatives like Health One. As we continue to reimagine public safety, we will expand civilian public safety alternatives like Health One that sends a firefighter and social worker to a 9-1-1 call,” Durkan said.
CHS reported here on the November 2019 launch of SFD’s Health One and its specially trained Seattle Fire Department firefighters paired with a civilian social worker to help address the issues of homelessness and basic human health needs swamping Seattle’s emergency services.
“With a second Health One unit becoming operational, the program will add Ballard and the University District to its primary service area which also includes the downtown core and Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the city said in its announcement of the program’s expansion:
The units can deploy City-wide at the crews’ discretion, and will further reach clients in South Seattle and SODO neighborhoods with the first unit. The second unit will be located at Fire Station 2 in Belltown and operational from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The program now allows for full weekday operations between the two units. Health One is dispatched through SFD’s Fire Alarm Center by calling 9-1-1 and cannot be contacted by members of the public directly.
Chief Scoggins said Tuesday that 56% of those served by Health One in 2020 reported they were experiencing homelessness.
“From a 26-year-old man looking for a shelter bed to a 92-year-old woman with mobility needs to a 44-year old man with an opioid use disorder, this program has proven to safely and effectively provide services to those who need it most, including our unhoused population,” Scoggins said.
The expansion comes amid ongoing debate over spending and the role of policing in Seattle as the city approaches what will likely be a protracted contract battle with the police union over a new contract.
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