Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (M.C.R.R.T) in Hamilton


December 2014



On November 25, 2013, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, COAST program, introduced a Mobile Crisis Response Team (M.C.R.R.T) to the COAST service. This is a partnership with the Hamilton Police Service to provide direct, rapid support of persons in mental health and addiction crisis by partnering a uniformed officer with a mental health professional to attend to these individuals in their time of crisis.


In 2012, 1674 Persons in crisis were taken to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Emergency Department from the 3 divisions of Hamilton Police Service.  COAST responded to approx. 5000 requests for service but only accompanied 200 of these individuals for further psychiatric assessment in 2012.  Division 1 (Central Hamilton) typically brings 50% of those individuals or 827 people.  The goal of this project was to reduce the number of individuals (N = 827) brought to St. Joseph’s Emergency Room by Division 1 officers and to divert people away from the ER and towards community services whenever possible.   This increased service was also being sought by the community due to several tragic encounters by people with mental illness with police and to increase the number of police contacts with people with mental illness with a mental health professional present. All referrals would come directly through Police dispatch via 911 and the team whenever possible would be the first responder to the mental health crisis.


The M.C.R.R.T was mobile for a total of 175 shifts and responded to 562 individuals in crisis between November 25th, 2013 and July 31st, 2014.  (This number includes actual physical contact as well as telephone contact).


Of the 562 individuals seen, there were 155 who were apprehended by the M.C.R.R.T under Section 17 of the Mental Health Act for assessment at Hospital (37 youth were taken to McMaster University and were not included).  Of the remaining 407 individuals, 367 were immediately diverted/connected to other available services, 40 were apprehended on the strength of Mental Health Act Forms already in place and required no further assistance.  13 individuals were apprehended under Sec. 17 of the MHA (including 1 youth) and 8 were apprehended under other MHA forms. Officers participating in the program with M.C.R.R.T were questioned as to whether they would have apprehended the individual if the Mental Health Professional was not on-scene.  Officers advised they would have apprehended the individual an average of 70% of the time compared to M.C.R.R.T apprehending only 27.6% of the time. With the M.C.R.R.T strategy in place a reduction of 893 hours of officer’s time that would have been spent in Hospital waiting rooms had already been saved.


It has been proven based on these comparisons that the ability to have a client assessed in the field by the mental health professional greatly reduces the number of individuals being apprehended and taken to Hospital.  For the individuals who are apprehended only the M.C.R.R.T is required to remain at hospital.  With the close working relationship between hospital staff and the M.C.R.R.T mental health professionals the reduction in wait times is significantly reduced and is expected to continue to improve over time.


The M.C.R.R.T is meeting its objective of reducing the number of individuals being taken to hospital as well as reducing the number of hour’s uniform patrol officers are spending at hospital. The feedback from the front line officers, communications section and partners has been fully supported. It is expected that over time the M.C.R.R.T will continue to make a positive impact for the police, the individuals in crisis and ultimately the community as a whole.



Terry McGurk

Program Manager, COAST

St. Joseph’s Healthcare








Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee