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Publicly Supported Telephone Numbers for People In Crisis, In a

Stressful condition, or In Need of Serious But Less Urgent Help

Primary Public Emergency Response Numbers

The best known, operational emergency response numbers in Washtenaw County are:

  • 911 — Designed as an easy-to-remember number for people to reach a) police when there is a life-threatening situation or a crime in progress, b) medical personnel when faced with a serious medical problem, and c) fire fighters for any type of fire.  Over time people have come to call 911 in other types of emergencies and in stressful situations that some outside observers would not describe as an emergency.  The person in distress is, operationally, the one who decides whether the situation is an emergency.  The Sheriff’s Office operates the dispatch center for 911 calls.  The Sheriff’s Office and local police departments are the best equipped to respond quickly 24/7 — with fire and ambulance personnel nearly equal in this capacity.  The twin features of operating the dispatch center and being funded and organized to respond quickly created the reality, and the presumption, that armed law enforcement officers are members of the response team when an on-site response is required to a 911 call.


We in CMHPS recognize the important role of 911.  As described in ”Recommended Appropriations,“ we support increasing the capacity of service providers outside of law enforcement and shifting the responsibility for response to them when appropriate.


  • 734-544-3050, the access line for all WCCMH services and questions, including 24/7 crisis services — The crisis services include dispatching of a mobile crisis services team when warranted as determined by the clinician who is linked to the caller by the person answering the call.  The person answering the call may request law enforcement backup — or even the immediate dispatch of law enforcement — when judged appropriate.  In most cases the caller’s situation is handled without the involvement of law enforcement and also without the immediate dispatch of the WCCMH mobile crisis services team.  Many people seeking an unarmed response find this number a comfortable place to start.


734-544-3050 is clearly an important number.  Because the number is long and not easily remembered, we are open to emphasizing 988 (see below) when it is launched.


  • 800-273-8255 a.k.a. 800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7 nationwide — This is also an important number.  Calls to the Lifeline number are currently routed to the nearest available Lifeline Crisis Center.  The closest Lifeline Crisis Centers are MICAL in Oakland County (see below for a discussion of MICAL) and Macomb County Community Health.  Thus, current calls from Washtenaw County to the Lifeline number are answered by people less familiar with local services than are those answering the WCCMH crisis/access number.  This situation will improve with the implementation of 988 (see below).


Two additional emergency response numbers will be available to residents of Washtenaw County in the near future.


  • 988 — “The free, dedicated 988 line will provide around-the-clock support for people who are experiencing a … health crisis.  Individuals dialing 988 will be connected to a local crisis call center in their community.”  (Source; go to this link for a two-page brief on 988).  The number 988 to be used for mental health and substance abuse crises will likely become as ubiquitous as 911 is for crises involving fires, crimes, and physical health.

Calls to 988 from within Washtenaw County will be routed to the WCCMH Access/Crisis Call Center at 734-544-3050.  The technical details reflect the evolution of the system over time.  Specifically, calls from anywhere in the U. S. to 988 will be routed to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number 1-800-273-8255, a.k.a. 1-800-273-TALK.  The Lifeline number will continue to be available.  The calls from within Michigan to either number will be routed to 844-446-4225 a.k.a. 844-44 MICAL (see below).  The calls from within Washtenaw County will then be routed to WCCMH.  The routing will be invisible to the caller.

The system introduced with 988 will be superior to current practice.  a) The three-digit number is easier to remember than a ten-digit number.  b) Calls to the Lifeline number are currently routed to the nearest available Lifeline Crisis Center.  The closest Lifeline Crisis Centers are MICAL in Oakland County and Macomb County Community Health.  Thus, current calls from Washtenaw County to the Lifeline number are answered by people less familiar with local services than are those in the WCCMH call center.

  • 844-446-4225 a.k.a. 844-44 MICAL, Michigan Crisis and Access Line — This crisis response number currently serves the Upper Peninsula and Oakland County.  The State intends to expand the coverage to the entire State of Michigan.  MiCAL offers 24/7 services with a focus on mental health.  These services include, for example, crisis support with dispatch of a mobile crisis team if necessary, referrals to resources, and linkages to follow up care.


We do not perceive a need for 844-446-4225 in Washtenaw County.  We also recognize it will be present.  We are pleased the implementation plan for 988 (see above) includes automatically routing calls to 844-446-4225 from Washtenaw County to the WCCMH crisis/access line of 734-544-3050.  We recommend not using local resources to publicize 844-445-4225.


The City of Ann Arbor is contemplating the creation of one or more emergency response numbers.  At this time the focus would seem to be on access to unarmed service providers and on access to a broad array of services extending beyond law enforcement, emergency medical care, and fire control.  We do not see a need for the City to establish additional emergency response numbers.  Duplicate numbers would likely add to confusion as people in crisis struggle with choosing the best action.  Having said this, the City could make a positive contribution by assisting the County and others to provide the services needed in response to calls to emergency response lines.

Click here to go to the "Introduction" of this section on crisis and help telephone numbers

Click here to go to "Primary Public Response Numbers for Stressful Conditions"

Click here to go to "Other Response Numbers and Especially Those of Nonprofits"

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