The Long Beach Fire Department is the first agency of its type in the nation to receive a three-year federal Mental Health Awareness Training Grant, city officials announced Tuesday.

The $360,968 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was awarded to the LBFD’s Homelessness Education and Response Team, known as HEART, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.

“With this additional resource, our fire team is able to conduct further enhanced training internally and assist other fire departments looking to emulate some of our city’s program within their jurisdictions,” Garcia said.

The HEART team teaches “mental health first aid” classes for fire department personnel.

“We have an ongoing commitment to give firefighters the best strategies to assist someone experiencing a mental illness or substance use-related crisis, and with this award … the HEART unit will now be able to deliver this class to first responders throughout the region,” LBFD Chief Mike DuRee said.

The class teaches a five-step action plan that discusses in depth the skills, resources, and knowledge that are necessary to help an individual who is in crisis connect with the appropriate professional, peer and self-help care.

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