Join the community during Mental Health Awareness Month in creating a Stigma Free Fishers through events, community stories, and educational opportunities all month long.  Learn more at and share how you are bringing awareness to mental health and creating a #StigmaFreeFishers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
The City of Fishers launched a mental health initiative in 2015 to bring forth the struggles many of our residents were experiencing and to identify resources we as a city could provide for mental health circumstances. As the Fishers Police and Fire Departments increased response to mental and behavioral health runsit was a natural first step to determine if emergency response was adequately trained to manage these incidents. The standing question for both departments is always, “How can we be better for our community?” 

Training was identified quickly as a way for firefighters and officers to better understand the circumstances of these incidents, identify interactions which escalate and de-escalate situations, and ultimately, provide the best care for the individual in crisis. 

Both police and fire departments committed to sending their personnel through additional training, which enabled both agencies to work closer and more effectively on these emergency scenes. In addition, data-driven information showed the need for having someone available to respond to these incidents with even more training that could follow up with these patients and help bridge gaps with their care. 

captain hugo wans headshot
Based off the Fire DepartmentWe Care community paramedic program, which was already established to follow other types of patients, the EMS Duty Officer position was created. With an additional 120 hours of training beyond the paramedic and fire training, individuals at this level would be available to respond to mental and behavioral crisis incidents in tandem with the Police department.  

Captain Hugo Wans said, “Having the tools and trainings to de-escalate situations has become a complete game changer.” Emergency personnel may respond multiple times to the same person for a variety of reasons, and relationships are developed in this process which helps personnel respond appropriately and gives patients greater comfort in dealing with responders they have dealt with in previous situations. 

Lt. Mayfield, one of the Fire Department EDO’s, concurs “Having this training allows EDO’s to arrive on scene prepared to handle the situation much differently than 20 years ago.”  Seeing patients as people who need help and resources, while understanding what that help may look like, allows responders to get patients where they need to be. 

In today’s response, new tools are also available. In May of this year, IU Hospital launched a new tele-health program for mental health patients, where trained emergency responders can provide patientan immediate consultation with a mental health care professional. Combined with the medical background of the paramedic, appropriate care can be provided for medical and mental situations, with resources immediately identified for the patient. 

robert mayfield getting an award from another firefighter
In addition, patients are then contacted within 72 hours by the paramedic for a followup to assure understanding and action has been taken by the patient and to clarify any concerns the patient may have. In essence, “The EDO’s have become advocates for patients and act as a community connector,” said EMS Captain Joe Harding. 

Fire and police personnel constantly look for better solutions for the betterment of our community. In this situation, training, personnel, technology, and partnerships have taken appropriate care to new positive levels for our community. Finding better ways is a never-ending approach to our community care. 

joe harding standing in front of the fishers fire department logo
If you or a loved one is in distress call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support. The line is open 24/7.  More resources are available at