CARES to Offer Weekend Service Starting Saturday


The Madison Fire Department announces the expansion of the Madison Community Alternative Response Emergency Services (CARES) program to include weekend service. Effective Saturday, September 16, Madison CARES will respond to non-violent behavioral health emergencies on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“Madison CARES has grown slowly but steadily since its inception in 2021, providing high-quality care to our residents in crisis. I am happy that the program will now better serve patients by expanding into weekend hours,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

The Madison CARES teams consist of a Madison Fire Department Community Paramedic and a Journey Mental Health Crisis Worker responding to calls dispatched through the Dane County Public Safety 911 Communications Center. Designed as an alternative approach to dispatching law enforcement, the teams provide patient-centered care to people experiencing behavioral health emergencies with a goal of connecting them with the resources they need.

Madison CARES was launched two years ago as a pilot program serving the downtown Madison area on weekdays. Since that time, CARES service has expanded to weeknight hours with citywide service, responding from Fire Station 3 on Williamson Street and the old Town of Madison Fire Station on Fish Hatchery Road.

“CARES is rapidly becoming a vital City service that continues to draw from other national models to provide the best mental health care possible for our residents,” said Ché Stedman, Assistant Chief of EMS Operations at the Madison Fire Department.

Madison CARES has responded to over 3,200 calls for service since its inception on September 1, 2021. The program has seen an increase in demand as its service expanded in geographic area, hours of service, and number of teams.

The Madison Fire Department partners with Public Health Madison-Dane County and Dane County Public Safety 911 Communications to routinely evaluate local mental health response data in order to determine where and when alternative response services are needed most. This data was used to identify weekend service as the next area of need in the latest Madison CARES expansion.

During weekend hours, Madison CARES will respond from the old Town of Madison Fire Station on Fish Hatchery Road.

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