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LETTER: Police waiting at hospitals is provincewide issue

Mental Health Act is one reason police have to wait, letter writer says
A Simcoe County ambulance is pictured.

BradfordToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via our website. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article about the effect of hospital wait times on police, published Nov. 23.

There is a lot missing from this article: the type of people being transported to hospitals in Barrie and Newmarket, the reason South Simcoe police are providing transport, the reason why South Simcoe police have to stay at the hospitals mentioned.

Without this information, readers might conclude ambulances and paramedics may not transport people to hospital.

The story is likely about persons who are a danger to self and/or others or unable to care for themselves.

When 911 gets called, emergency responders attend. If indicated, the person is transported to a hospital with Schedule 1 status under the Mental Health Act. If police are involved, they typically are required to stay at the hospital until care and custody is transferred to the hospital, usually after the person is seen by a physician and a Form 1 is issued. The person might be dangerous to themself or others or an elopement risk, so additional staff and security might be required.

I believe the concern from police is the utilization of officers and vehicles in terms of cost and being unavailable while accompanying persons at hospital. This is a provincewide matter that has gone on for decades. The procedure is basically outlined in the Mental Health Act.

Don Johnston