STARvada Co-Responder Program

Arvada Fire’s STARvada mental health co-responder program launched in 2023 to expand and improve care to individuals experiencing behavioral health crisis in our community. 

The innovative program deploys a community support team consisting of a licensed mental health clinician and a firefighter paramedic. Both staff a discreet co-responder van and are dispatched  to calls involving behavioral health. The co-responder team provides crisis assessment and referral services, community outreach and support, and transportation to alternative destinations such as a crisis center if needed.

This new resource is being developed because behavioral health crises have steadily increased in recent years. In fact, responses to 911 calls for suicidal ideologies, overdoses, substance use disorders, mental illness, and other incidents involving severe anxiety and depression have more than doubled in the last three years.

Deploying a specialized co-responder team allows Arvada Fire to better respond to an individual’s immediate mental health needs. The firefighter paramedic’s role on the team is to rule out any underlying medical cause for a behavioral health crisis. The licensed clinician identifies appropriate pathways for care and connects the individual to services and resources that can improve their wellness. 

Nationally, co-responder models have provided improved quality of care to those experiencing mental health emergencies while decreasing unnecessary arrests or hospitalizations. These models improve the availability of other agency resources, such as ambulances or fire apparatus that can return to service for other emergencies. The program also reduces costs for the agency by diminishing repetitive calls for service.  

STARvada is made possible by a partnership between Arvada Fire and WellPower, a not-for-profit community mental health center known locally and nationally as a model for innovative and effective community behavioral health care.