A new response team has been deployed in northwest B.C. to provide rapid response for communities facing mental health and substance use challenges.
The Northwest Specialized Response Team (SRT) consists of two registered nurses accompanying RCMP and other first responders on mental health and substance use-related calls.
A pilot of the SRT program started in Terrace weeks ago and is currently limited to the city with two nurses on rotation seven days a week between noon and 8:30 p.m. said the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in a news release.
“We’ve recognized the need for integrated and collaborative approaches between first responders and health-care providers,” said Clare Hart, Northern Health’s northwest director, specialized services, in the release.
“These partnerships improve the continuity of care and reduce gaps for vulnerable clients.”
In the coming year, the ministry plans to expand the northwest SRT’s support to Smithers and Prince Rupert.
In Terrace, the team has been working to provide follow-up visits for people who have experienced a recent overdose or require help accessing local services, including harm reduction, treatment and recovery supports.
The nurses will also be able to support the transition if a patient needs to be admitted to hospital, said the ministry.
The new service is a collaboration between Northern Health, the RCMP, B.C. Emergency Health Services, the First Nations Health Authority and local Indigenous communities and municipalities.
“We value the collaboration with health authorities on addressing the often-complex needs of individuals with mental health and substance use challenges,” said Mike Robinson, Terrace RCMP acting officer in charge, in the media release.
“While police have a critical role in responding to calls for assistance in a variety of circumstances, our desire is always to see individuals receive appropriate medical interventions and other supports that they may need.”
The team is financed through $55.5 million previously announced to support expanded overdose prevention services.