Onslow County selected as finalist for 2021 NC Tech Awards


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Onslow County`s efforts to use technology to help persons in mental health crisis has been selected as a finalist for the N.C. TECH Awards Public Sector Project award.

The NC Tech Awards is North Carolina’s only statewide technology awards program that recognizes innovation, growth and leadership in the tech sector and is presented by the NC TECH (North Carolina Technology Association).

Onslow County and the City of Jacksonville were the first to deploy an innovative new safety system for emergency response to persons suffering from mental health crisis in the nation. The Health IM program deployment grew out of the concern for the opioid epidemic. Substance abuse is one manifestation of many mental health issues. The Health IM program operates in conjunction with Onslow Memorial Hospital, local mobile crisis providers, and the Dix Crisis Intervention Center.

Onslow is a finalist along with Mecklenburg County, the City of Asheville, and two entries from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The award winner will be announced in November.

The Health IM system prioritizes the safety of the person in crisis as well as law enforcement and healthcare personnel. Important safety information from previous law enforcement contact is presented to officers responding to an emergency crisis in the moments before contact is established. This information includes any de-escalation suggestions or alerts family members and loved ones may have provided to police during previous emergency crisis response situations. Officers are then guided through an evidence-based rapid risk assessment to support on-scene decision making and communication. Violence prevention summaries are automatically generated and securely transmitted to the hospital or to the Dix Crisis Intervention Center to facilitate safer transition of care.

“For over 20 years, NC TECH has celebrated companies, organizations and individuals for outstanding achievement at the NC TECH Awards. As a finalist this year, Onslow County has distinguished itself as one of the states innovative and emergent leaders," stated Brooks Raiford, NC TECHs President and CEO.

Onslow and the City of Jacksonville have already received recognition for the lifesaving program from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners earlier this year. The program has also drawn the attention of many other communities suffering from the opioid crisis and seeking answers to dealing with persons in mental health crisis.

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