Policing has changed. A lot of what officers do today varies from what most of us might think ‘traditional policing’ looks like. Many of the calls that come in to the North Bay Police Service (NBPS) are not law enforcement related, but the result of someone in crisis or dealing with mental health and addictions.
That’s where a partnership between the NBPS and the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) comes in. Specially trained police officers are joined by registered nurses to form what is known as the Mobile Crisis Team. This team responds to calls and follows up on incidents involving mental health or addictions. Together they assess the situation and help determine the best course of action, whether it is to bring them to the hospital for assessment or connect them with a community service or agency.
“Before when a person called 911 in psychological or emotional distress, officers had limited options to help them and this used to put extra pressure on the Emergency Department for the individual to receive care,” explains Sandy Deschenes, Manager of Addictions and Mental Health. “Being in a busy ED can be distressing if you are already in crisis, and the team can de-escalate situations and connect individuals with the right community service without always having to come through the Emergency Department.”
“Before the creation of the Mobile Crisis Team if patrol officers had to bring someone to the hospital for assessment by a physician, they would wait in the ED until the patient was either admitted or discharged,” explains Shawn Devine, Police Chief. “When the Mobile Crisis Team attends the call, patrol officers can then resume their duties.” In North Bay, having a registered nurse working in the field with the police aids in providing the proper diagnosis and likely courses of treatment to patients, that range from transporting to the hospital to arranging alternate care and medications with other care providers. This has had an impact in reducing the average wait time for officers at the Emergency Department. In 2017 the NBPS responded to 2768 Mental Health related calls with approximately 400 requiring assessment at the NBRHC.
The Mobile Crisis Team can help people in crisis receive the support they need in the right place, from the right provider, the first time. Another important benefit from having the nurses at these types of calls is the ability to provide continuity of care for individuals already accessing mental health services. “If during the call the Team discovers the individual is already involved with a mental health service, we can begin to collaborate with the service,” Deschenes says.
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For more information, please contact:
705-474-8600 x 3130