Montgomery County frequently finds itself well ahead of the curve when it comes to the adoption of new practices in emergency mental health. One of the latest is teaming police officers with non-law enforcement co-responders on mental health calls.
One of the potentially most dangerous jobs local police officers do is serving mental health warrants for persons who are felt to be a danger to themselves or others because of serious mental illness. Such situations often involve individuals who are extremely psychotic and agitated. Assuring the safety of the patient, the officers, and others in the household or area can be challenging.
MCES met this concern early on when our psychiatric emergency medical service (EMS) started in 1975. Since then, our EMTs receive additional crisis intervention training to aid them in joining police officers on emergency mental health calls. In many cases, the officers have also had crisis intervention training at MCES, which also covers all applicable aspects of PA mental health law.
The MCES EMS handles transports of adults to MCES and youths under age 18 to hospitals serving that age group. The patient avoids the trauma and stigma of being in police custody and our EMTs are able to observe and support on route. There is less risk of injury in this arrangement and officers spent less time away from their communities.