PACER (police, ambulance, clinician emergency response) – Mental health unit fits the bill

Its obviously not working if mental health act arrests have quadrupled since 2002. Why not try something new? Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.


The PACER unit concept was designed to provide a streamlined, specialist response to people in crisis and free up police to better respond to core tasking.

Essentially, a PACER unit is manned by a police officer and a mental health clinician between 3pm and 11pm, seven days a week.

It has been found that the majority of crisis events occur in these hours.

A front-line police unit attending an incident or Emergency Service Telecommunications Authority (000) will request the attendance of the PACER unit at the address, and that team will provide a specialised response.

When the PACER unit deem it appropriate, the front-line police can be released to resume duties.

A PACER unit has the ability to directly admit the client to specialised treatment centres such as the Barwon Health Swanston Centre.

The person will usually be transferred via Ambulance Victoria, which saves transporting them to emergency departments where, in some cases, it can take some time to be assessed and appropriately treated.

The PACER model achieves much better outcomes for the individual, reduces demand on hospital emergency departments, specialised treatment centres (such as the Swanston Centre) and police, and dramatically reduces the risk to all attending professionals when dealing with people having mental health crises.

The units have been successfully operating in a number of metropolitan areas for up to four years and the Geelong version is the first time this innovative approach has been rolled out to a regional area.

The Geelong PACER unit has already been called out more than 100 times, mostly for people threatening or attempting suicide or self harm.

The model is constantly being evaluated to gauge its success and benefit not only the people in crisis, but also the participating agencies. I am pleased to say the initial evaluation and feedback has been extremely positive.


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