Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Mental health crisis calls

 May 13, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, May 13th>>>>

Specialized teams for mental health emergencies
More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Fire crews from Chula Vista, San Diego, National City, Poway and Heartland fire have been sent to Orange County to help battle the coastal fire.

Fire officials say flames near laguna niguel have destroyed at least 20 structures -- many of them multi-million dollar homes -- and charred more than 200 acres.

About 900 homes in the area have been evacuated. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after being injured.


Covid-19 cases are still on the rise in San Diego county.

Nearly 5,000 cases were reported in the past week, that’s up 800 from the week before.

That’s according to the county health and human services agency.

The county reported about 900 cases on thursday and 14 deaths.


Authorities have identified a 31-year-old man who died in custody at the San Diego central jail.

Leonel Villasenor of San Diego was found unconscious in a holding cell at the detention center last week.

Sheriff's officials say jail staffers and emergency personnel responded, but paramedics later pronounced him dead at the scene.

A cause-of-death has not yet been released.

Jails run by the county sheriff’s department have come under scrutiny for having one of the highest in custody death rates in the state.

Villasenor is the 9th death in San Diego county this year.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

For years, it’s fallen to law enforcement officers to handle people going through a mental health crisis. It’s a job most of them aren’t trained to do. But that’s changing in San Diego County.

KPBS reporter John Carroll has more.

Too often, when police officers and deputies are called to respond to someone in a mental health crisis, the outcome isn’t good. At its worst, it can be deadly.

The 2016 killing of Alfred Olango by El Cajon police officers is just one example. No mental health professionals were present on the scene.

Public frustration over episodes like that fueled pressure on law enforcement and local elected leaders…and that’s led to change.

Starting this week, law enforcement agencies in San Diego are diverting mental health calls to mental health crisis response teams… 16 of them across the county, available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher appeared Thursday with representatives from most of the 11 law enforcement agencies in the county.

CG: Nathan Fletcher/San Diego County Supervisor

“Our efforts around mobile crisis response are designed to alleviate the burden on law enforcement, freeing them up to keep us safe - and provide these individuals with the right care.”

The crisis response teams can be reached through 911 dispatchers, but the fastest way to reach them is by calling 888-724-7240.

JC, KPBS News.


San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says he’s proposing the largest infrastructure investment in city history…. More than 800-million dollars for a wide range of improvements.

He and other San Diego leaders gathered at Mountain View Park Thursday to outline his plan.

KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere has more.

Mayor Todd Gloria covered a wide range of proposals for his upcoming budget, which include park and streetlight improvements, stormwater projects and clean water investments.

Gloria says that the proposed infrastructure upgrades will be distributed equitably across all parts of the city.

“We're also allocating dollars to complete updated streets conditions assessment, which will tell us which neighborhoods need this attention the most and dedicate our limited resources towards it. So it's not about subjective, it's objective.

Gloria's proposed budget is for fiscal year 2023, which begins on July 1. The City Council is currently reviewing and discussing the Mayor’s entire proposed budget in a series of public hearings. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


The VA says it’s revamping its caregiver program to enroll more veterans. But KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh says hundreds of families say they’re being kept in the dark about the changes.

Nikki Stephens cares for her husband John, a former Marine who was injured in Fallujah, Iraq and now suffers from epileptic seizures.

“If he has a status seizure, meaning he goes into a seizure that's longer than five minutes. That's when it becomes really dangerous. He needs somebody to be able to call 911 for him.”

The VA program pays family members to be full-time caregivers. It was originally designed for post-911 vets. but the VA recently started making changes after Congress opened the program to other veterans. Here is Nikki Stephens again. 22:18“The harm that is being done is to the families. That are kind of being whipped back and forth with this. You know, am I, on the program Am I not on the program.” Coleton Whitaker with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation says the VA continues to drop people from the program though the VA secretary recently ordered a pause to look at the changes.

“They're either not receiving benefits anymore being told they should plan accordingly, because they will not be. Or would it be receiving quite a substantial amount less than they may have, you know, been receiving previously.”

Advocates are asking the VA to stop removing caregivers until the final rules are put in place. Steve Walsh KPBS News.


National Nurses Week put a spotlight on health care heroes this week.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman brings us the story of a nurse who works with patients 8-thousand feet in the air.

If you need us, anywhere in San Diego, we can respond

Meet Mercy Air flight nurse Kelly Forman

God mother is up here

Colleagues call her the godmother of air medical services in San Diego--

Kelly Forman, Mercy Air Flight nurse

24 hours a day 7 days a week there’s a resource just like this and you wouldn’t really know about us until its the worst day of your life

For the last 27 years, she’s been responding to emergencies all across Southern California in helicopters.. We caught up with her at Mercy Air’s Oceanside base, they have multiple locations in the county, ready to respond at a moment's notice.

The pagers go off the tones drop and it can be anything from a motor vehicle accident it could be someone having a heart attack in the east county it could be a drowning on the beach — and we have to prepared for everything

These helicopters are sort of like flying ambulances, only they can do more. Each crew has a flight nurse and a paramedic or physician on board. It’s literally an intensive care unit in the air--

This bag, we call it bob, big orange bag. It’s 34 lbs of emergency room right here and now

Crews carry a variety of medications on board and are able to do infusions mid-flight.

This is the lifesaving stuff, that you know you just dont really appreciate is that’s there and that’s that we carry blood and we carry plasma

Every second matters when responding to emergencies -- and typically air crews get called to remote locations or to scenes where patients desperately need attention--

Starting and being able to instate the therapies right at the scene — that is huge so we make use those valuable minutes that people have that make the difference between success and tragedy

During her years as flight nurse Forman has helped save thousands of lives.. Some days are tougher than others, especially when she’s the last person a patient sees.

It’s so easy by grabbing a hand and reaching down and leaning down and saying my name is kelly im going to be there for you. Im going to take you all the way to your next doctor and sadly enough i have walked all the way to the lord and that is a really tough place to be but that’s part of what we have to do

You’re launching Ok

Part of Foreman's job is also helping to train resident-physicians from UC San Diego health.. she loves what she does.. Now 61, Foreman doesn't have any plans to slow down.

If I could go off the passion of my heart I would be here another 27 years

Forman says to this day she still gets the same adrenaline rush for every call.



Coming up.... The San Diego Italian Film Festival is honoring their late founder tonight with a special film screening.
We’ll have more on that, next, just after the break.

In March, the San Diego Italian Film Festival lost its founder Victor Laruccia to an aggressive form of stomach cancer. He was 80 years old. Tonight the Festival will celebrate his life with a screening of the Italian film Loose Cannons at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with his stepdaughter and new president of the board Jennifer Davies. Here’s that interview.

That was Beth Accomando speaking with Jennifer Davies.

The San Diego Italian Film Festival will hold an Italian movie night and fundraiser in honor of its late founder Victor Laruccia. It’s happening tonight at 6pm at the Museum of Photographic arts.


And one more before you go,The San Diego county public library is hosting a How-to festival this weekend. There will be livestreamed how-to demos on a variety of arts and crafts projects, as well as cooking how to’s.
The demos are presented by library staff and community members. You can find more information on the How-to festival facebook page.

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. This podcast is produced by Sr. producer Brooke Ruth and me, Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Ways To Subscribe
All law enforcement agencies in San Diego will now be able to refer mental health crisis calls to county-sponsored teams who are trained to handle mental health emergencies. Meanwhile, Mayor Todd Gloria focuses on major investments in water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure in his latest budget proposal. Plus, the San Diego Italian Film Festival celebrates the life and legacy of its late founder with a dedicated screening today.