WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after visiting the Seattle Fire Department to discuss the award-winning Health One Program and its impact on the community.

“The Health One program saves lives and helps countless members of the community,” said Congressman Smith. “This program ensures that dedicated, specially-trained professionals are available to provide care for our individuals experiencing non-emergency medical or mental health issues. I want to thank the Seattle Fire Department for hosting me and I’m proud to have submitted a Community Project Funding request for Health One to the House Appropriations Committee intending to help expand this vital program. We must continue to support public safety alternatives like Health One which allow our first responders to focus on emergency situations they are trained to handle and ensure better-suited professionals can help those in need.”

Congressman Smith submitted a Community Project Funding request for Health One Expansion in Seattle which would add capacity to Seattle’s existing Health One program to respond to referrals and nonviolent emergency 911 calls with behavioral health professionals and crisis care management teams. Health One is oriented toward service to under-represented communities and individuals who struggle to access health and social services – another response team would allow Health One to reach an additional 1,000 individuals through referrals each year.

The current Health One program, and similar diversion programs for non-violent 911 calls, have demonstrated success in providing more appropriate behavioral and mental health support than traditional 911 response, reducing unnecessary calls to the police, and improving emergency response by providing long term solutions and services to people in need.

Earlier this year, Congressman Smith introduced the 911 Diversion to Unarmed Personnel Act, which would provide funding for unarmed 911 response programs that divert nonviolent 911 calls to specialized service providers like Health One. These diversion programs will help ensure that individuals who are experiencing addiction crises, homelessness, or developmental or intellectual disability, or other mental health issues are met with professional service providers capable of providing screening, assessment, de-escalation, and transportation to immediately necessary treatment.