Situations tables are being set up across B.C. and Chilliwack is the latest city to get funding to establish one to avert crises for those most at-risk. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Chilliwack gets its own situation table to avert crises

It’s a multi-agency team, the fourth in B.C, geared to intervening quickly when necessary

Chilliwack is set to become the fourth city in B.C. to establish “a situation table” where a multi-disciplinary team takes action quickly to get the community’s most vulnerable the help they need.

Funded by the B.C. government through the Office of Crime Reduction and Gang Outreach (OCR-GO), the table in Chilliwack will be known as the ‘Chilliwack Interagency Response Team’ — or CIRT for short.

City of Chilliwack staff will chair the structured CIRT meetings, geared to “rapid interventions.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack hired 15 more RCMP

“To explain what the team can do in the simplest terms, it will get the right people to the table to administer triage and intervene in real time,” said Mayor Ken Popove. “I think it will be an awesome program for our community.”

The traditionally slower channels of phone calls and emails between agencies are avoided with CIRT, which could save weeks of time.

“Meeting with the client begins within 48 hours of the table meeting,” said Popove. “So if John Doe is spinning out of control, and in dire straits, it’s another layer of care we can provide.”

Any agency can refer a case to the table.

“Situation Tables (also known as Hubs) are considered a best practice for improving community safety and reducing crime by facilitating multi-agency collaboration that connects vulnerable people to services,” said Hope Latham, spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in an email.

That means community stakeholders will be assessing individual cases that get presented weekly, and employing “a triage approach” with the goal of improving personal and community safety.

“Acutely elevated risk exists in situations where the risk factors present in a client’s life cross the mandates of multiple agencies, and recent events suggest a high probability that the client could experience a crisis,” according to Latham, the ministry spokesman.

CIRT members will be the front-line experts from 20 stakeholder agencies, from health service providers, to RCMP, to probation officers, who will be coming to the table to do this work collaboratively in Chilliwack.

The cities of Surrey, Mission and Penticton have established situation tables, or hubs, as they’re called to allow those in the thick of situations to tackle clients deemed to be at “acutely elevated risk.”

The hub model comes from Saskatchewan originally, and there are 100 tables operating across Canada.

Each community customizes its own table name, priorities, and mandate based on its unique needs.

Case managers present cases to see if they meet the criteria and have the various risk factors that could trigger the need for rapid intervention.

To date, the OCR-GO has provided funding to the following tables:

• March 2018 – $175K to City of Surrey to explore enhancements to SMART and/or the creation of an Opioid Response Table

• June 2018 – $50K to City of Penticton to establish a Community Active Support Table (CAST)

• October 2018 – $50K to City of Chilliwack to establish the Chilliwack Interagency Response Table (CIRT)

READ MORE: Crime Prevention evolution


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