The Las Cruces Fire Department is launching a new crisis intervention team that will respond to residents suffering from mental health emergencies, assist with de-escalating critical situations and help individuals connect with the medical or psychological resources they may be need.
Project LIGHT – Lessen the Incidents of Grief, Harm and Trauma – launches March 6 and will initially operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week, Monday through Saturday. The Las Cruces Fire Department is hosting an Open House to introduce the Project LIGHT teams to community partners at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Fire Station 1, 201 E. Picacho Ave.
Project LIGHT has two teams that each include a certified firefighter-paramedic and a licensed social worker. When called upon, the team will respond to critical incidents alongside first responders such as Las Cruces police and fire personnel.
LCFD Battalion Chief Mathew Hiles oversees Project LIGHT.
“We anticipate our teams responding to a host of behavior health calls such as individuals who are experiencing suicidal ideations or having problems with drugs and medications,” said Hiles. “Our teams are well prepared to intervene in traumatic situations, assist people through crises and help connect them with resources within our community that can help long-term.”
In 2022, the Las Cruces police responded to 1,070 behavior health calls while Las Cruces firefighters responded to 542 overdose calls and 154 suicide attempts.
Project LIGHT employs two licensed social workers, two firefighter-paramedics and a case manager who has experience working with elderly and disadvantaged communities. Both social workers earned their master’s degrees from New Mexico State University.
Project LIGHT is funded by the City of Las Cruces and was recently awarded $1 million in federal grants. U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan were both instrumental in securing the federal funding.