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The Marcus Alert system requires a collaborative effect between 9-1-1, crisis call centers, behavioral health agencies, and law enforcement. Arlington County and other localities in the state will follow a triage framework to ensure there is a strong foundation and clear communication across the following local and state agencies:

Arlington County’s Emergency Call Center (9-1-1 Dispatch): The Department of Human Services works with the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) as they are the first responders to ensure calls are properly identified, handled, and soft transferred according to call types and urgencies. Behavioral health calls will be triaged and responded to according to the following levels, based on available community resources:

  • Level One (Routine): Telephone behavioral health response  
  • Level Two (Moderate): Mobile behavioral health response  
  • Level Three (Urgent):  Behavioral health and law enforcement co-response  
  • Level Four (Emergent): Law enforcement led  

Regional Crisis Call Center (HopeLink Behavioral Health): The Department of Human Services collaborates with PRS, Inc., Northern Virginia’s regional crisis call center provider. The regional crisis call center (RCCC) handles all 9-8-8 calls and is a national initiative that provides telephone support for individuals in distress, and prevention and crisis resources.

Law Enforcement: The Department of Human Services has a partnership with local law enforcement by ensuring there are developed specialized law enforcement responses to behavioral health related events. DHS also provides support by managing the county’s Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) that properly educates law enforcement on how to rectify crises and provide a compassionate and behavioral health response to citizens.

The Fire Department: The Department of Human Services works closely with the Fire Department (EMS) to ensure when individuals are in crisis, they receive the proper medical attention and transportation to services.

Crisis Intervention Center: The Crisis Intervention Center (CIC) serves as an alternative destination in Arlington County to reduce recidivism and hospitalization visits. The CIC serves a central hub with five, 23-hour stabilization units that provides voluntary Emergency Services assessment, crisis management, de-escalation skills, and short-term services to individuals experiencing a behavioral health emergency.

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Each protocol of Marcus Alert involves a mutual understanding and unified response from these departments in the following ways:

  • Protocol 1 (9-1-1 Diversion): The Emergency Call Center will soft transfer behavioral health and substance use related calls to the regional crisis call center. The calls will be appropriately triaged, coordinated, and transferred based on the urgency level. The urgency of calls will be determined according to the four-level Marcus Alert call types.

  • Protocol 2 (Mobile Crisis Back-up): The Regional Mobile Crisis Hub and Arlington County’s law enforcement will have a mutual agreement on how calls will be soft transferred to behavioral health services or law enforcement to ensure a compassionate and behavioral health response.

  • Protocol 3 (Specialized Law Enforcement Response): Law enforcement will provide a specialized response to identified Marcus Alert calls. The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will be required to use de-escalation techniques within the county’s use of force policy, utilize skills taught in implicit bias training, and demonstrate skills learned in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).  


Anticipated Timeline of Marcus Alert Implementation  


EmergencyProfile.org: Create a free emergency health profile to provide first responders with your vital health and medical information (behavioral health related information included) when calling 9-1-1 during an emergency or crisis.