Mission & model
Connecting community members to care with mobile behavioral health service
Poulsbo Fire CARES
Fire CARES — community assistance, referral, and education services — is the Poulsbo Fire Department's Mobile Integrated Health Response Unit. Launched in January 2021, CARES responds to individuals struggling with behavioral health issues and helps them navigate the situation — whether they need medical attention, mental health care, substance use disorder services, or other kinds of care.
Staffed by a firefighter/EMT trained in crisis intervention and a behavioral health professional, the CARES unit is a multidisciplinary team aiming to prevent crisis by being proactive in the field.
Connection and community
The goal of the CARES program is to connect individuals to appropriate care and services and to reduce the impact of non-emergency calls on fire and police departments.
Poulsbo Fire CARES accepts fire and police referrals across North Kitsap communities — including Poulsbo, Suquamish, and Bainbridge.
During this challenging time, many of our most vulnerable don't know where to turn. Getting help can feel overwhelming.
We're here to help community members take the first step.
Better outcomes, lower costs
Fire CARES is a proven model encouraged by the Washington State Legislature (RCW 35.21.930) that improves outcomes, reduces costs, and helps individuals who have difficulty accessing care — particularly during Covid-19 when numerous in-person behavioral health programs are significantly disrupted.
Poulsbo Fire CARES decreases dependence on a police response while reducing the burden on EMT's and costly ER visits.
During our first phase of operation, the CARES Unit can only be requested by Fire and Police.
Questions about the service are welcome — email project manager Kim for more information.
Meet Meet our CARES Firefighter-
Crisis Intervention Officer
"I am a career Fire Fighter with the Poulsbo Fire Department where I have been employed as a line Fire Fighter for the past 22 years.
I began my Fire Service adventure as a volunteer/resident Fire Fighter with what was then called Kitsap County Fire District #15 (now known as CKFR). I worked three seasons of wild land in California and seven years structural with Subase Fire/Rescue at Naval Submarine Base Bangor before my time here in Poulsbo.
Throughout my career I have participated in many exciting programs — Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Officer, Character Education for Elementary age children, BLS Peer Review Liaison, Public Relations Coordinator for Kitsap County Professional Fire Fighters — and when I heard about the Poulsbo Fire CARES program I had a strong desire to participate.
I am excited and motivated to join the Crisis Intervention Team in our North Kitsap Community and connect with those who seek much needed resources."
-Firefighter Dave Musselman
Firefighter Dave Musselman
photo credit: Brent Jolly
Meet Meet our CARES
COMMUNITY SUPPORT SPECIALIST
"I have over 25 years of experience as a volunteer, counselor, life coach, and advocate, working from a trauma-informed approach with families, children, adolescents, and adults. As a mental health professional for 18 years, I worked with those affected by early childhood trauma, as well as current or recent traumatic situations.
I have many years of experience in collaborating with service providers on all levels within the community to create a network of service and treatment options for individuals in crisis. I have participated in numerous community outreach events over the years, sharing information helpful to those in the field in gaining a better understanding of behavioral health issues that might impede growth, development, healing, and safety.
I believe that my experience working with individuals from all walks of life who have struggled with trauma on various levels provides a solid foundation for the Poulsbo Fire CARES Program as a Community Support Specialist.
I am excited to contribute my strengths, knowledge, and experience to the Poulsbo Fire CARES unit.”
Community Support Specialist Renee M.
photo credit: Jeniffer Lynn Photography
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