LENIOR CITY, Tenn. (WATE) — A $50,000 grant is helping the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office provide transportation for mentally ill patients.

Currently, the sheriff’s office handles taking patients suffering from mental illness from hospitals to mental health facilities. This grant will allow medical professionals, who are trained to deal with patients, to transport these individuals, according to LCSO.

“Our main goal in securing this grant was to not victimize mental health individuals and allow for trained professionals to transport these patients,” said Sheriff Jimmy Davis. “We are extremely thankful for this grant and the cooperation between our office, Amerimed Transportation Services, Priority Ambulance Service, Loudon County E-911 and Fort Loudoun Medical Center.”

The grant was awarded by the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs and it is aimed at providing mental health transports for mentally ill patients.

“While these individuals have not committed a crime, it is the responsibility of the local county Sheriff to transport this patient from the location where a certificate of need has been executed by a medical professional to the awaiting approved behavioral health facility,” states the description of the program from the website.

The grant program offers funding to help sheriff’s offices to cover the costs of transportation and partner with third parties to provide transportation.

LCSO partnered with Amerimed Transportation Services to handle all mental health transports.

“It is our calling to provide caring and compassionate services to those experiencing behavioral health challenges,” reads a statement from Amerimed. “Our personnel serves as patient advocates and our behavioral health transport services enable partnering Sheriff’s Offices the ability to retain their personnel locally to enhance public safety by keeping them available to answer other calls for service.”

The private EMS company started in Tennessee by partnering with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in 2018. According to a release, they now provide mental health transportation services to 20 counties across the state.