New CARE team helps Flagstaff police’s call response, does outreach

City leaders approved the program in the fall
Flagstaff residents who are in need of help can turn to The Care Unit.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:34 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Margaretta Chase doesn’t have a traditional desk and computer. But in her office, she does have everything she needs to turn someone’s life around.

“Somebody might just be down on their luck that day or something,” Chase told Arizona’s Family on Wednesday. “Got a flat tire. So we just have that conversation. Ask if everything is OK for them.”

You can spot her office, the C.A.R.E. unit, as it cruises around Flagstaff. Chase is a mental health clinician, and along with an EMT, they reach out to folks around town and take emergency calls deemed safe for them that traditionally would go to police and fire officials.

“On a systemic level, what we are trying to do is decrease some of the strain on the system,” said Sirene Lipschutz, a clinical manager with Terros Health in Flagstaff.

The goal is to offer a different kind of support and a partnership between the Flagstaff Fire Department and Terros Health. Arizona’s Family first told you about this program when it was approved by city leaders last fall, and it began about a month ago.

“We’ve taken a completely different outlook on really taking care of our community of all levels. And this is just another level that’s been extremely successful,” said Captain Mike Felts with the fire department.

Like every community, Flagstaff has its own unique needs. “We really have four seasons. And during the winter, that means we have people out on the streets who are cold and at high risk,” Lipschutz said.

Born and raised on the Navajo Nation, Chase has always felt the need to help. “My parents, at one point in time, were foster parents. So we were one of the only emergency houses because we actually had a phone in our house,” she said.

The team takes calls from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, but the groups would love to expand to 24/7 service eventually. It has helped or made contact with nearly 100 people in the first month. In the van the unit operates, it also has food, water, and medical supplies to check someone’s vital signs if needed.