(Delta Police Department photo)

VIDEO: Smartphone app to help Delta police during mental health calls

HealthIM app helps turn officers’ observations into clinical language for medical staff to interpret

The Delta Police Department is now the first police agency in B.C. using a new technology to help those experiencing mental health crises to more quickly get the help they need, while also decreasing the amount of time officers spend dealing with mental health apprehensions.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 8, all of the department’s frontline patrol officers had been trained on a new app available on their smartphones called HealthIM. The app helps turn officers’ observations when dealing with a mental health call into clinical language that medical staff can then more readily interpret.

While still at the initial call, an officer will take about five minutes to input the pertinent data. The app then automatically generates a clinical summary and securely forwards it to Surrey Memorial Hospital, which is where Delta police bring people dealing with a mental health crisis.

“When our officers arrive at the hospital with the patient, staff there will already know who is coming in and what observations were made that contributed to the officer making the decision to apprehend,” Sgt. James Sandberg, who heads up the DPD’s mental health unit, said in a press release. “We think this will be a really valuable tool in helping improve mental health outcomes in Delta.”

According to a DPD press release, mental health apprehensions on average mean 120-130 minutes of wait time for the officers involved.

Sandberg said other police departments using the app have seen significant decreases in wait times, and he believes Delta officers could see their average wait time cut in half.

He noted that police may apprehend someone under the Mental Health Act, but a physician ultimately determines whether someone should be admitted to hospital for care or released back into the community.

“Our community partners, like the Delta Police [Department], play a critical role in helping us provide quality, timely care to our patients,” Dr. Craig Murray, head of emergency medicine at Surrey Memorial Hospital, said in a press release. “This new technology means we can make sure we have the right resources in place, so when these vulnerable patients arrive we are ready to provide them with the care and support they need.”

In addition to reducing hospital wait times and improving communication with staff at the hospital, use of the app is also expected to help increase the speed of follow-up care. Previously, when an individual was apprehended, the officer would write a report detailing the interaction for the DPD’s mental health unit. When the mental health officers returned to work, they then would review the report and the person’s history, often then making referrals to appropriate community agencies.

HealthIM automates this process, so those that need help can receive it in a more timely fashion. As about 15 per cent of all calls for service in Delta involve a mental health component, the app should also free up time for the officers of the DPD’s mental health unit.

Sandberg said he believes the process of going through the app’s clinical assessment function will also serve to provide ongoing education to patrol officers regarding when people should be apprehended, which in turn should result in more consistency throughout the department when responding to mental health calls.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mounties seeking witnesses to Saturday shooting

Police say the victim isn’t providing investigators with information

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

B.C.’s virtual ‘SoundON’ concerts kick off with sounds of Surrey festival

‘FVDED Broadcast’ from nightclub on July 18, as charity event

Surrey council approves $150 FOI fee for attendance requests at city facilities

This came before council’s meeting on Monday July 13

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Professional basketball in Canada begins return to action with COVID-19 testing

Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Bandits, six other CEBL teams arrive in Ontario for Summer Series

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

Most Read