What is it about?

This study in Amsterdam evaluated the implementation of psychiatric ambulances for transportation of individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, in terms of coercion and safety. How does this mode of transportation fare compared to police transportation?

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Why is it important?

Police officers are often the first to respond to emergency calls involving persons who are in a mental health crisis and who show aggressive or suicidal behavior, and officers typically remain responsible for transporting an individual in crisis to psychiatric emergency units when needed. However, police officers usually receive limited training in managing psychiatric disorders and in responding to individuals experiencing psychiatric symptoms or crises, which may increase the risk for preventable escalation and the use of restrictive measures.


Transport of individuals in a mental health crisis by a psychiatric ambulance (PA) rather than by police was feasible. Transport of emergency psychiatric patients by a special PA reduced the use of coercive measures during the transport, kept the occurrence of aggressive incidents stable, and was associated with fewer coercive psychiatric admissions. The PA service in Amsterdam has been extended by including streamlined implementation, an expanded role, and introduction of multiple vehicles and expanded tasks to enhance PA availability and efficiency.

Jeroen Zoeteman

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Coercion During Psychiatric Ambulance Versus Police Transport in Mental Health Crises: A Pre- and Postimplementation Study, Psychiatric Services, May 2024, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.20230571.
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