Crisis Teams Partner For Safety

By Martin Blake, Toronto Police Service Published: 5 a.m. May 10, 2018

Last Father’s Day, officers responding to a call at the Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, near Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave., found a man standing on the top of a fourth-floor ledge.

A man in TPS uniform with another man
Mental Health Nurse Roberto Iasci and Constable Vadim Dudarev patrol North York as a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team

Upset and crying, the man was in obvious distress.

After nearly 30 minutes of negotiations, he was distracted by a phone call and officers were able to pull him back over the railing.

“That is one of the success stories,” said Constable Vadim Dudarev of 33 Division. “Once we got the opportunity to grab him, we did so and took him to a hospital. This person was very thankful that we saved him.”

Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT), made up of a mental health nurse and police officer, respond to calls involving people in mental health crises, including thoughts of suicide or self-harm, distorted or psychotic thinking, anxiety, overwhelming depression and temporary breakdowns. The Toronto Police Service partners with six hospitals, who provide Mental Health Nurses, to provide a mobile response. 

“It’s very overwhelming when you are in a situation as dynamic as this one was,” said North York General Hospital Mental Health Nurse Robert Iasci. “There is just no greater joy than bringing safety to that individual at the end of the day.”

Mental Health Nurse Roberto Iasci and Constable Vadim Dudarev respond to people in mental health crisis in the north end of the city

The officer and the nurse assess an individual's specific needs, provide intervention and support at the scene, de-escalate the situation and ensure the person is connected to appropriate services. 

“One of the things we bring is our ability to de-escalate,” said Iasci, of the equal partnership between police officer and nurse. “We go in with the understanding that the individual in crisis is just that: in crisis… We bring our compassion to someone in crisis which is, I think, one of the biggest gifts we can give to any human being on this planet, especially when they are not having the best of days. Our level of diplomacy, our level of compassion, is paramount.”

The MCIT provides a secondary response to 9-1-1 calls involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis that requires intervention.

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