How Pairing Paramedics and EMTs with Police Can Combat Rising Mental Health Crises in Communities

Author: Zachary Anta

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest global health crisis we have faced in generations. The pandemic caused major implications and uncertainty on all facets of life, health, and the economy. Social isolation, inflation, and financial pressures coupled with many more crippling impacts from the pandemic has resulted in individuals experiencing mental health crisis to reach its highest peak in years.

A spike in psychological distress, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness has been a hot topic of conversation in healthcare and law enforcement alike. Predominately, when first responders receive calls regarding someone in a vulnerable mental state, members of law enforcement are first to arrive on scene. According to a recent study published by the Brennan Center for Justice, a New York-based think tank that focuses on criminal justice, voting rights and other public policy matters, several major cities across the United States are adopting initiatives that involve sending behavioral health specialists and other community members on these calls for service. The report shares that agencies created programs that paired specialists such as paramedics or therapists with the police to assist during a response. One example is the City of San Diego, which, according to the article, “Study: More law enforcement agencies turning to ‘non-police responders’ in mental-health crises” by Lindsay Winkley, launched the Mobile Crisis Response Team in January 2021. The team is made up largely of mental health clinicians, case managers and peer support specialists who can provide various levels of support to nonviolent, behavioral health situations. According to the report, “By investing in alternatives to police, (jurisdictions) not only ensures that routine, nonviolent matters get appropriate responses, but also frees up police to devote themselves to serious crime”. These changes in response to nonviolent, mental health situations lead to a potential training opportunity for Fire/Rescue & EMS agencies. Training in the areas of mental and behavioral health for front line Paramedics & EMT’s can help to properly care for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis in their respective communities.

Similar programs were recently established in other cities and continue to be implemented to combat challenges of rising mental health crisis. There is a critical need in communities for more Paramedics & EMT support as their role expands. PCG can help address this need by alleviating administrative burdens and providing consulting services to allow Fire & EMS agencies to focus on what matters most. Contact us today by clicking the button below to find out how we can help you.


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