Health and Safety professionals from Missoula Emergency Services (MESI), Mobile Support Team (MST), Missoula Police Department (MPD), and the Fire Department met with staff members and clients of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) last month to address ways to better serve refugees and immigrants in Missoula. One of the primary goals of the meeting was to discuss ways that Missoula’s emergency service professionals can build connections with the community and encourage new residents to feel comfortable using these resources.

A group of people standing together, some in uniform.
Missoula City officials, Health & Safety professionals, and IRC staff meet to discuss health and safety concerns.
(Faces blurred for privacy)
Photo: The IRC in Missoula

First responders and IRC staff discussed methods for sharing health and safety information with the community in an accessible and comprehensive way. Some examples of this are including graphics on posters to encourage residents to install an app called Smart 911. This app allows users to add crucial information, such as health history, address, preferred language(s), etc. Having this information readily available allows first responders more time to assist those who have health or safety concerns and navigate communication barriers.  

The IRC was happy to share information with first responders on interpretation services and we discussed the many ways emergency service professionals can create a safe environment where all feel heard and safe. Service providers also provided insight into the steps they're taking to build connections with citizens. For example, National Night Out is an event that MPD holds annually in August, where citizens can meet with all police forces.

We want to express our thanks to Missoula City officials who organized the event, professionals from MESI, MST, MPD, the fire department, and community members who contributed to these valuable conversations. We are eager to continue developing this partnership and hold similar events in the future. 

As always, dial 911 for health, fire, and immediate crisis’, reporting a crime or disaster. Dial 988 for any mental health crisis including thoughts of suicide, emotional distress, or substance abuse issues. This includes reaching out for help for loved ones. Lastly, to find information and/ or referrals for transportation, legal services, support groups, or disaster aftercare dial 211.