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The Front Line: EMS, Law Enforcement, and Probation and Parole

  • Jada Hector
  • David Khey
Chapter

Abstract

First responders—which typically include emergency medical services (EMS), “line” (or patrol) law enforcement officers, and firemen—are workers who are dispatched to crime scenes, accidents, and emergencies. Aside from bystanders and witnesses, they are often the first to encounter people in crisis and even more likely to be the first to engage with these individuals. These professionals routinely encounter the turmoil, panic, and pain in its rawest form and thus are often dealing with difficult and serious situations—perhaps even daily. In regard to confronting mental illness, the primary concern lies in the lack of relevant training for the vast majority of these professions. For example, EMS personnel commonly have some level of training to enhance their ability to work with individuals experiencing mental health crises and/or who have a mental illness (diagnosed or undiagnosed); on the other hand, law enforcement officers commonly have little to no required training in mental health-related topics. This training deficiency is beginning to be addressed as some departments are moving to require officers, or a subset of law enforcement agencies’ patrol units, to be trained to serve on Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT), but this is not yet universal. Therefore, it is imperative to carefully consider the unintended consequences of having citizens routinely encountering professionals who are not properly trained to work with individuals experiencing mental health crises when emergency services are dispatched. While many urban and suburban areas have created a mobile crisis unit that provides immediate services in the event of a mental health crisis, these units are often underfunded or work in isolation. Ideally, these mobile crisis units work together with local law enforcement when emergency services are called. This chapter discusses the current picture of first responders’ work with individuals with mental illness and citizens experiencing mental health crises. It further identifies probation and parole officers as part of the first responder definition as these professionals confront the very same issues as do their colleagues in patrol law enforcement and EMS.

Keywords

First responders Treatment Access to treatment Medical coverage Cracks in the system Budget cuts Electronic medical records Comprehensive care Stigma Barriers to care Co-occurring disorders Public housing Detoxification Rehabilitation Social support services Medication management 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jada Hector
    • 1
  • David Khey
    • 2
  1. 1.New OrleansUSA
  2. 2.University of LouisianaLafayetteUSA

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