A new pilot project is being rolled out in Portage la Prairie and three other communities in Manitoba. The $310,000 program includes software that's loaded onto tablets.
"We announced last fall a project called HealthIM," says Justice Minister Cliff Cullen. "It's another tool police officers can use to make an assessment of mental health patients in the field -- what kind of risk the individual will have to either himself, others or to police."
He notes questions are displayed on the tablet to provide a readout as to how to deal with any given situation where mental health is an issue.
RCMP Inspector Jarrid St. Pierre adds the tablet issues a risking matrix of high, medium or low. With this information, he says the police officer is able to communicate directly with the Portage and District General Hospital allowing a doctor to look the data over. He notes the doctor is able to determine if additional family support is needed, or another means of dealing in a case where apprehension is not required. Medium or high risk allows the doctor to triage their arrival, and communication is basically improved between police and medical staff in regard to what police officers are observing, and translate it into medical language so the person can be better assessed.
"We're just at the phase now where it's a pilot project in Winnipeg, Steinbach, Thompson and in Portage la Prairie," continues Cullen. "So, we're just rolling it out now, but anything we've heard from about its use in other jurisdictions tells us it's been reviewed quite favourably. It's a really good way to triage between the police and the healthcare professionals."