SMA Healthcare (SMA) and the SMA Healthcare Foundation are pleased to announce that Florida Power and Light (FPL) has donated $10,000 to assist with a collaborative program between SMA and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office (VSO). 

The check presentation took place Thursday at the SMA Healthcare administrative office, and the money will go toward iPads, which will be used to help deputies connect people in need of help with trained mental health counselors and social workers.

“We appreciate FPL’s generosity in providing this donation,” said SMA’s Chief Operating Officer, Rhonda Harvey. “This will help us tremendously as we continue to move forward in providing life-saving services to our community.”

It is the intent of both SMA and the VSO to fully resource a crisis response team to respond to non-criminal emergency 911 calls, in an effort to reduce confrontations involving police officers, save money and potentially lives, allowing police to concentrate on law enforcement.

The core elements of the program are as follows: 40-hour crisis intervention training for new VSO recruits; mobile response training; a mental health professional who will be assigned to a VSO substation; and, telehealth response, which will feature iPads with a secure telehealth platform to connect deputies with a live mental health professional. The iPads would help provide a safer, virtual approach for the mental health workers, particularly with the ongoing pandemic.

“This is just one more tool we can give our deputies to help resolve calls where mental health expertise is crucial,” Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “Working together with SMA, we’re doing everything we can to get the right resources in place to address the problems so many families call 911 to solve. I’m really grateful to SMA, the Foundation and FPL for putting a priority on innovative ideas that improve everyone’s safety.”