Alberta RCMP Regional Police and Crisis Teams (RPACTs) are ensuring people in distress get the help they need when they need it most by combining police resources with mental health expertise.
The teams include one RCMP officer and one Alberta Health Services mental health therapist who respond to mental health calls. By working together, they’re able to provide the right support for those in crisis.
The teams follow up with people whom police previously encountered on a call, respond to referrals from other police officers, and monitor what’s happening on daily police patrols in case there’s a call they can help with.
When appropriate, the teams help clients and connect them with community resources to avoid a trip to the hospital emergency department. This allows RPACTs to provide timely interventions and reduce the strain on the health care system.
RCMP Cst. Thomas Harris, who works with the RPACT in Edmonton, says working with a mental health therapist can achieve a more effective response as the health care professionals can access medical records including information about medical history, medications, and other factors.
“When you approach a patient and you’re concerned about their medical history, you have the advantage of having this extra knowledge that normally only a medical professional would have,” says Harris.
RPACTs can also help police use their resources more efficiently, especially in rural areas where taking a person in distress to hospital can mean driving and waiting for hours. An RPACT response can allow general duty RCMP officers to spend more time on the road responding to other calls.