An Analysis of the Behavioral Health Response Training Provided to EMS Personnel

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The Ohio State University

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Among Emergency Medical Services (EMS) systems, calls related to behavioral health crises have increased at an exponential rate. This rise in call volume is accompanied by the increase in the expectations of pre-hospital personnel such as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics related to the provision of pre-hospital psychosocial care. However, this increase in expectation has not correlated with an increase in the training of EMS personnel to respond to behavioral health calls. The purpose of this study is to examine the level and type of behavioral health training among EMTs and paramedics, and the extent to which they contribute to perceived preparedness when responding to behavioral health calls in the central Ohio area. Eligible participants were Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel [Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics] over the age of 18 who currently are employed in central Ohio (Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union counties). Study participants completed an online survey indicating the level of type of training they received and rated their perceived comfort and preparedness for different facets of response during behavioral health calls. Participants also offered their opinions on behavioral healthcare response systems and trainings in other parts of the United States, including the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program in Eugene, Oregon, and the Shaker Heights Crisis Response Team in Ohio. 12 EMS personnel completed an online survey. Independent group t-tests were conducted from survey data to detect mean differences in level of preparedness by type and level of training. The study found that EMS personnel receive much of their training related to behavioral health patient care while responding to calls in the field. Therefore, personnel do not feel their training increased confidence related to different facets of patient care. Lastly, if further training programs related to behavioral health were to be provided in central Ohio, EMS personnel would be eager to participate. Findings from this study can be used to inform the creation of better mental health emergency response programs in central Ohio. This would benefit not only those in behavioral health crisis, but also EMS personnel’s safety and their maximization of time and resources.



EMS Personnel, Behavioral Health, Training, Social Work, Confidence