P.E.I.'s mobile mental health service to launch next week, union says

·2 min read
Island EMS will operate the mobile mental health service on P.E.I. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)
Island EMS will operate the mobile mental health service on P.E.I. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)

Prince Edward Island's mobile mental health service is set to launch next week, according to the head of paramedics' union.

Six paramedics have been hired so far to be part of the mental health crisis response team, said the president of CUPE Local 3324 Jason Woodbury.

"Our members have been hired, six of them, to work in the Summerside, Charlottetown and Montague, Souris area, and they're undergoing training sessions," Woodbury said.

"We're not doing the clinical duties as of yet. We're just getting our gear ready and going through the training process."

His union thinks that the mobile mental health unit will be an "asset" to Islanders, and serve more than physical emergency needs, Woodbury said.

"It's going beyond our traditional duties of responding to emergency calls, so I think it would be a good change and beneficial for Islanders."

The hired paramedics have been training with social workers and registered nurses, he said.

"Now we're going into Prince County Hospital to shadow the crisis response teams that's currently up and running in the emergency department there."

1st mental-health team with paramedics

There are mobile mental health services in other parts of Canada, Woodbury said, but P.E.I.'s service would be the first to use paramedics.

Wayne Thibodeau/CBC
Wayne Thibodeau/CBC

"It shows that paramedics are beneficial in the health-care system in a variety of settings."

Police officers may be involved in the service in future, he added, but for now their involvement depends on a request from a paramedic, nurse or social workers.

"We're being told right now that police services will be initiated at the request of the mobile mental health team that's currently in place," he said. "

If there's a mental-health crisis where there's a risk to anybody, then the police would automatically be called, he said.

The mobile mental health unit will be operated by Island EMS which is owned by Medavie, a national health company.

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