Every day, individuals go without essential services while help is readily available. In 2013, the Heart of Illinois United Way and Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois (AMT) have partnered to launch Heart of Illinois 2-1-1, a comprehensive information and referral line to connect callers to critical health and human care programs.
As part of the “N-1-1” calling system that includes 9-1-1 and 4-1-1, Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 offers a new way to access services throughout Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties. By launching 2-1-1, local programs and services provided by health and human care, nonprofit, religious and governmental agencies can be readily accessible in times of need.
Nationally, 2-1-1 call centers average more than 17 million calls each year. The first was launched in 1997 by the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Three years later, the FCC set a national mandate for all states to offer 2-1-1 access, and in 2009, the State of Illinois began to put 2-1-1 into action. With the Heart of Illinois United Way’s current line averaging more than 8,500 calls per year, the new Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 line will take over these calls and be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The partnership established with Advanced Medical Transport is a vital component to providing comprehensive information and referral services to the region. Linked to AMT’s 9-1-1 call center, 2-1-1 specialists can easily transfer calls in case of emergency, and 9-1-1 call center staff has been cross-trained to provide 2-1-1 assistance. In cases of extreme emergency, the call center at AMT is rated to withstand an F5 tornado and has redundant phone lines and emergency power, a self-contained HVAC system and web-based software.
By making just one confidential call, the caller will be provided with fast, efficient access to resources across the community… no more wrong numbers or wasted time trying to find the right resource. The specially trained staff will collect demographic information with the caller’s consent, assess the caller’s needs while exploring special requirements, and ultimately, provide the caller useful referral information.
Utilizing data received at the call center, Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 will also become a useful planning tool, as it will put nonprofit and government agencies in a better position to anticipate demand for services and mobilize to meet changing needs in central Illinois.
This helpline is not just a collaboration between the United Way and AMT; it brings the community together to increase access to available services. With the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1, those needing critical health and human care services will know that help is just a phone call away. iBi