The Prince Albert Police Service and Parkland Ambulance Care have teamed up with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and a roster of addiction medicine on-call physicians, to offer health-care intervention to detained individuals experiencing addiction – particularly those requiring support to stabilize and detoxify.
Individuals who are incarcerated in cells will have access to paramedic services allowing them to be triaged, assessed, treated and only if needed - transported to hospital. However, the goal of the program is to provide treatment in the cell block to provide the right care at the right time.
This one-year pilot project began May 1, 2021.
This partnership will ensure that both a senior police officer and a senior paramedic are available to oversee the detention area at the Prince Albert Police Service daily between 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
“With close to 6,000 arrests each year in Prince Albert, including numerous arrests due to alcohol or drug intoxication, there are many times where additional medical attention might be required to ensure the safety of those detained," said Prince Albert Police Chief Jonathan Bergen.
The Prince Albert Police Service expects that having a senior medical professional on hand in the detention area will lead to enhanced support for vulnerable residents and result in fewer follow-up trips to hospital.
“The Prince Albert Police Service is committed to working with our community partners to ensure the health and safety of the public," said Bergen. “This partnership supports our organization's shared goals, and provides a more comprehensive approach to the supervision and safety of those in custody. We are excited to partner on this integrated approach to health."
Jennifer Suchorab, SHA Director of Mental Health and Addictions for the North East, echoes Chief Bergen's sentiments.
“Our physicians and other health staff have also noted the increased presentation of addiction intoxication over the last two years, “said Suchorab. “These individuals in custody now benefit from an on-site paramedic in the cell block."
Trevor Dutchak, Chief, Parkland Ambulance Care, said he is looking forward to continuing the initiative that also ran for one year in 2018.
“It's identical to the 2018 model, with a small change in our staffing. We know that when we are able to assess and care for these people without delay, it improves their health outcomes and reduces the burdens on hospitals," said Dutchak.
The project is funded through the provincial Mental Health and Addictions budget, specifically for individuals coping with crystal meth substance use and requiring detox services.