Brandon Police Service Enhances Response to Mental Health Crisis


Source: Brandon Police Service Media Release

When individuals with mental health challenges are in crisis, Police are often summoned to respond. “It’s our job to keep the person and the community safe.” says Chief Wayne Balcaen of the Brandon Police Service, “By legislation; our front-line members have to decide if the person needs to go to the hospital for emergency assessment.”

If a mental health crisis call ends up at hospital, it often takes hours for the person to be assessed by a doctor. After being assessed, the person is admitted for treatment less than half of the time. At two Constables per call, this can represent a significant impact to police resources.

Brandon Police Service is hoping this will begin to improve after they launch an innovative new program for responding to crisis calls later today.

Implemented in conjunction with area hospitals, the program is a digital platform called HealthIM™ ( equipping Officers with on-scene risk assessment tools and the ability to communicate with triage nurses in real time.

“It’s about collaboration. It’s about supporting our members and providing them with the tools and training they need to provide an appropriate and empathetic response to our citizens,” says Deputy Chief Randy Lewis of the Brandon Police Service.

Based on a clinical screening tool specifically designed for use by law enforcement, HealthIM runs inside cruisers on police mobile devices. The program will assist officers in determining the best environment for a person in crisis. If a trip to the emergency room is required, the system alerts the triage nurse in advance, communicating vital mental health information. This helps healthcare staff prepare and to provide more timely treatment.

“When police are called to a person in crisis, they have to decide whether that person needs to go to the hospital. This can be very difficult given limited information and time.” says HealthIM CEO Daniel Pearson Hirdes “The system places screening tools right into the hands of Officers.”

HealthIM has been adopted by 19 police services in Ontario and the prairies and has improved police response to individuals in crisis and cut hospital wait times by as much as 50%. The program goes live this morning and was funded in full through the Manitoba Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund.

Brandon Police Service is the first agency in the world to incorporate the IOS platform with the Health IM program.

About HealthIM – HealthIM is a comprehensive technical solution for Police Service response to mental health crisis calls. On scene, Officers are guided through a brief digital screening of an individual’s risk of harm. After an Officer decides which outcome is most appropriate, HealthIM supports transfer of care to mobile crisis teams, emergency shelters or in the case of apprehension, to local hospital receiving sites. The system utilizes military-grade cryptography (transport layer security and 4096-bit RSA encryption) to safeguard an individual’s privacy.