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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – In light of the Newtown shooting in Connecticut, there has been a new emphasis to educate first responders on mental health situations.

Agencies in the community met up today to discuss step by step their long term goals.

Whether it’s a shooting, a fire, even when a homeless person is in need, first responders must be ready to react, provide and protect.

“It’s very important, we don’t want them not having their basic needs met. Whatever it is that they need we’ll try to provide it and if we can’t we’ll find the resources that can,” said Glenda Buckhalter from the Columbus Police Department.

Now, regional responders are brainstorming about better ways to achieve those goals. Representatives discussed what resources are currently available, while reviewing ways to improve protocol.

“If we had a fire and they were homeless, due to a fire or some sort of disaster, Red Cross and Salvation Army can take care of some of that but what happens after three days,” added Carole Summerall from the Columbus Fire and Rescue.

It’s not just a one person job, it takes a community effort to respond to a person in need. Hopefully this event will have agencies figure out a solution that will work long term.

“We want to make sure that they’re ok physically, mentally, and emotional. If they have a mental illness we want to make sure that they are being looked after for the long term, not short term fix but something that is going to sustain them for the rest of their lives,” said Buckhalter.

Emergency agencies are looking forward to developing a practical plan of response.

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