Every minute counts in an emergency. First responders are trained to arrive at an emergency scene and deliver life-saving treatment as quickly as possible. They’re trained to recognize the difference between a medical emergency and a mental health crisis, because the two scenarios require different modes of treatment. In Charleston County, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have partnered to get mental health patients to the correct facilities faster than ever before.
Together they operate the Mobile Crisis program, which gives paramedics the ability to connect to a psychiatrist on a computer in the EMS vehicles. Once connected, the psychiatrist can see the patient and assess their mental state. DMH administrators say this program’s goal is to keep mental health patients out of the emergency room, where they might have to wait for several hours, even days, before receiving the care they need. Mobile Crisis also cuts down on paramedics’ time at the scene, releasing them for response to the next call.