Quarterly Forum: 'PACER' - a proposed new response to mental health crises

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Griffin Centre

20 Genge St

(Room 6, Level 1)

Canberra City, ACT 2601

Australia

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Discussion of a proposed new way for police, paramedics and clinicians to work together in response to mental health crises and incidents.

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Join the AFP’s Sergeant Craig McPherson and Megan Davis, Quality and Patient Safety Officer with the ACT Ambulance Service in a FREE discussion of the proposed ‘PACER’ response to mental health emergencies in the ACT.

Currently, when there is a mental health emergency somewhere in the ACT, it is usually the police that are the first responders. Responding to mental health crises is the most frequent job type encountered by police, and the prevalence for paramedic responses is escalating at a rate greater than for other service types.

Ambulance and police attendance most often results in one of two outcomes; the person in crisis will be taken to a hospital emergency department under an involuntary Emergency Detention, or responders may be satisfied that the situation is safe, and that the person can remain at home.

Although paramedics and police receive some mental health training, they are not clinicians and therefore unable to exercise clinical judgement and treatment, nor arrange follow-up consultation/treatment.

PACER (Police Ambulance and Clinician Early Response) is a co-response mental health capability found in numerous jurisdictions both domestically and internationally, though not yet introduced into the ACT. Uniquely for the ACT, the PACER proposal would provide a tri-service capability as the means for front-line services to respond to mental health crises.

As Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury MLA has said, "You've got a model where police provide the physical security, the paramedics often have to deal with physical injuries that arise from a self-harm incident or a psychotic episode, and the mental health clinician is obviously the lead in responding to the underlying issue, which is the mental health issue".

The goals of PACER are:

  • Provision of acute in-situ mental health clinical support in a manner that upholds the interests and dignity of a person,
  • Reduction in trauma experienced by persons in crisis,
  • Reducing the prevalence of involuntary emergency detention,
  • Decline in admission to in-patient facilities, and
  • Restoring front-line capacity to the ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Policing and the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department.

It's hoped that the proposed introduction of PACER will help prevent a lot of people from ending up in a hospital emergency department. When PACER was introduced into Birmingham and Solihull in the UK (at the Mental Health Triage Team), people detained under their Mental Health Act more than halved and fewer people were taken to hospital emergency departments.

As always, this Quarterly Forum will have ample time for Questions and Answers from attendees.

These Quarterly Forums are organised jointly by:

The ACT Mental Health Consumer Network,

Carers ACT,

and the Mental Health Community Coalition of the ACT.

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Date and Time

Location

Griffin Centre

20 Genge St

(Room 6, Level 1)

Canberra City, ACT 2601

Australia

View Map

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