In this pilot program, vans are operated by the Psychiatric Mobile Response Team (PMRT) to transport a client who is on a psychiatric hold or to intervene on the streets to avoid the need for an involuntary hold. Utilizing specially-designed vans from the outset of responding to a call for someone in crisis allows the client’s healing and recovery to begin from the first moment of contact. All vans are staffed with an expert team from LACDMH and are comprised of a clinical driver, psychiatric technician, and a peer support specialist enabled to rapidly initiate supportive case management.
This new program expands the current reach and impact by integrating L.A. County mental health experts into the emergency response for calls that come into 911 or go directly to the L.A. City Police Department or L.A. City Fire Department. The pilot program will embed a team of L.A. County mental health experts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in five L.A. City Fire stations across the County to co-respond or take lead on incoming emergency calls related to, or presumed to involve, an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. The program launched in 2021 and be studied for one year with a focus on sustaining and expanding the program into other cities within L.A. County.
Specific benefits of this program include:
- Minmizing the client’s trauma, stigma, and loss of privacy and dignity, which is too often a part of the transport process when ambulances and law enforcement are involved.
- Vehicles are designed with a therapeutic interior to ease the stress of the client’s situation, and the teams that staff the vans are dressed in civilian clothes, not uniforms, to further de-escalate the situation.
- The Therapeutic Transportation Program’s approach shortens the wait time for medically stable, non-combative, and cooperative individuals – a crucial objective for the safety of both clients and the responding LACDMH team.
- For many underserved groups, the first encounter with mental health services is often through a mental health crisis. Changing the standard transportation practices to a more private, less traumatizing, and less stigmatizing experience will lower a perception barrier to accessing mental health services and increase the likelihood families would volunteer to intervene on behalf of the potential client to obtain mental health services.
- The program frees up vital first-responder resources such as law enforcement patrols and ambulances to focus on other community safety and health priorities.
Learn more about Emergency Outreach Triage Division’s programs.