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Psychiatric nurses now on permanent duty for Sask 911 callers

What started as a pilot project has become a permanent aspect for Saskatchewan RCMP as  psychiatric nurses will provide help to 911 callers experiencing a mental health crisis.

The nurses also provide backup for Saskatchewan RCMP officers responding to calls of mental health nature.

Two more registered psychiatric nurses have been added to the program, bringing the total staff of registered nurses in the program to four.

Saskatchewan RCMP report that during the 12-month pilot:

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  • 99.8 per cent of callers reporting a mental health crisis agreed to speak with the nurse.
  • 80 per cent of the callers assessed by a nurse immediately received referrals to be admitted to a mental health or addiction service
  • 71 per cent of the callers assessed by a nurse avoided being driven by a police officer to an emergency department to get a diagnosis or treatment.

One caller stated,”I was treated like a person. To have someone there at the lowest point in my life really made a difference in how I got through the crisis and how I feel about the RCMP. Police officers haven’t always been my best friends, but I understand now they are there to support me and offer me assistance.”

The nurses in the Saskatchewan RCMP program are available Monday to Thursday from noon to midnight as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday 24 hours a day.

Another responding Saskatchewan RCMP officer said,”It is so helpful to have another option besides taking persons in crisis to cells or hospitals, when neither is a great option most of the time. I am so grateful the nurses do thorough assessments and put in the supports right away.”

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis is encouraged to please call 911.

The Saskatchewan RCMP Operational Communication Centre located in Regina receives more than 350,000 calls for service from the public each year.

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