Mobile team to help Lambton’s homeless before a crisis

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Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, speaks at the announcement of the Lambton Mobile Crisis Response Team. The province will provide $2.8 million over three years for the teams made up of paramedics and Bluewater Health employees.

Starting in June, a Lambton County paramedic and a substance abuse navigator from Bluewater Health will be heading out on the street, trying to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

Wednesday, the province announced Lambton is receiving $2.5 million over three years to begin a mobile crisis response team.

Stephen Turner, the manager of Lambton Emergency Medical Services, says the teams will begin work in June after a month of training.

“We envision ourselves working on the daily in encampments, homeless shelters, meeting people where they are, and building relationships to a first name basis, so that we can build that trust to be able to address health concerns before they become emergencies, and be able to avoid having to go to the emergency department,” says Turner.

The two teams will each consist of paramedic and substance abuse navigator who will work from 10 am to 10 pm seven days a week and although you might not notice them.

“It won’t be an ambulance that will come in (to the homeless encampment),” says Turner adding they’ll be driving a smaller vehicle or could be on bicycles. And, they won’t be in full paramedic uniforms. “Sometimes the uniforms can put people off and so the uniforms will be dressed down a bit as well to be a bit more approachable, and trying to build those relationships,” says Turner.

“We will see the paramedic addiction system and navigator working together and meeting people introducing themselves, learning what they need. The program is in its infancy so we’re going to take our lead from the people we aim to serve.”

Turner says the goal is to keep people well and possibly help them into treatment programs if they wish.

Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, speaks during the announcement of the new Lambton County mobile crisis response team. Warden Kevin Marriott, new Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP-elect Steve Pinsonneault, Lambton EMS Manager Stephen Turner and Nadine Neve of the Sarnia-Lambton Ontario Health Team were among those on hand for the event.

Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, was on hand for Wednesday’s announcement at Lambton County headquarters in Wyoming. He’s seen the work paramedics can do during a ride-along in Oshawa.

He saw paramedics “attend at a car where people were living, and be able to provide supports and services to the individuals to then be able to go to another location and meet up with someone who was going through withdrawal, to be able to provide supports and services through the para medicine. to be able to keep that person safe and to provide those wraparound supports and services really stood out to me as something important that we need to do in the community,” Tibollo said.

“What we’re doing is alleviating some of the pressures on the police but at the same time, we’re also alleviating pressures in our hospital emergency rooms. And of course, we’re providing the best level of service that we we can directly to the individual and meeting them where they are.

“This new model of paramedic led teams will be even more successful at building relationships, and helping the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

And the associate minister says the crisis teams will take some of the pressure off police and emergency rooms because they deal with mental health and addiction issues before they become a crisis.

The Lambton pilot is one of three receiving funding in the province. Teams are also being set up in Thunder Bay and Simcoe County. Ottawa already has a similar mobile crisis team.