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Red Deer’s Social Diversion Team making a difference

October 4, 2021 11:15 AM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

Since launching in late January of this year, Red Deer’s Social Diversion Team has been making a huge impact by providing help to individuals in distress and reducing the number of non-emergency calls dispatched to emergency first responders.

“In the first six months, the Social Diversion Team responded to 878 events, averaging approximately six calls per day,” says Jeremy Bouw, Safe & Healthy Communities Supervisor for The City of Red Deer. “Each one of these calls represents an event that was diverted from our emergency medical services and policing resources, and also demonstrates our ability to respond to individuals in need with the right resources at the right time.”

Since January, Red Deerians have had the option to call 2-1-1 and press 2 when they see someone that needs non-emergency support, such as someone experiencing mental health issues, addictions crisis or homelessness. Statistics show that the team is having the greatest impact in the city’s downtown core.

“We have had really great feedback from downtown businesses, where a majority of our calls stem from,” says Stephanie MacDonald, Program Manager with Safe Harbour.“The Social Diversion Team has been very effective in both working with the individual to connect them with the resources they need, as well as provide positive outcomes for the businesses that have called us.”

The most common issues the Social Diversion Team responds to are related to homelessness, intoxication and mental health. As these Teams are comprised of a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Social Diversion Specialist, they are uniquely prepared and qualified to provide support to these issues. The team connects people with the social services they need, such as housing supports, mental health supports, detox programs and harm reduction resources.

“When we launched this program, our goal was to improve community safety by providing a broader spectrum of supports,” says Bouw. “In reviewing the six-month data, it has been demonstrated that the Social Diversion Model has been successful in supporting first responders, the business community, citizens, and the individuals in crisis.”

The program utilizes the 2-1-1 service for dispatch and contracts personnel through Safe Harbour. While the Social Diversion team’s hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. currently, 2-1-1 responds to calls 24/7, and refers them to the proper agency for response.

For more information about the Social Diversion team, please visit www.reddeer.ca/211.

For more information, please contact:

Jeremy Bouw,
Safe & Healthy Communities The City of Red Deer
403-406-8683

Corporate Communications
The City of Red Deer

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