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For several years the Morden Police Service has been concerned over the number of hours officers are tied up with individuals regarding health-related matters.

Different avenues are being explored to improve the situation. Morden Police Chief Brad Neduzak says the legislation is changing to have other individuals trained to take over custody of those patients.

The reason police are tied up is due to the nature of those kinds of calls, says Neduzak. "The possible unpredictable nature these patients have, so it's the number of hours we're spending in health facilities while these patients are awaiting assessment."

In the new year, those extra hours are likely to reduce with the implementation of an instant messaging pilot project called HealthIM.

Neduzak says HealthIM will see police input information about the individual's actions or behaviour and give officers suggestions on whether or not they should be taken to the hospital. That same information will be forwarded to the hospital to allow staff to prepare for the individual's arrival.

"We may be able to prevent transportation and holding this individual for several hours at a facility if a medical practitioner does their analysis and gives us the okay."

The program has been seeing success in Ontario for some time now, with a decrease in the number of hours police are spending on calls of this kind and Neduzak says they hope to see the same results.

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