WMPeople: PC Chris Beards, Mental Health Triage Team

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PC Chris Beards, aged 34, Black Country Street Triage Team, married with three children.

WMPeople tells the story of the varied roles, teams and valuable work carried out by colleagues across the force each and every day. To support Mental Health Awareness Week, PC Chris Beards shared his experience as part of the Mental Health Triage team. Chris talks about how the team has successfully adopted a multi-agency approach.

The day starts with…kitting up, as many other officers do each day up and down the country, before moving on to prepping our ambulance for the day with our paramedics and nurses. We then try to be proactive in scanning both police and ambulance logs for anything we can offer assistance with.

I’m responsible for… the safety and security of our civilian colleagues. Due to our multi-agency approach, we often go to incidents and patients deemed too risky for normal NHS or ambulance services. We can use our access to systems, as well as NHS care notes to inform our risk assessments. We also have access to police signposting portals and powers conferred under the Mental Health Act.

I joined up…12 years ago, serving on Force Response the entire time. I really enjoy problem solving and wanted to experience the vast array of different incidents all our officers are exposed to daily. I remember the national adverts at the time used the slogan “every day is different – Police… Could you?” and I still love the unknown of the next job coming over the radio.

What people might not know is… the amount of ambulance emergency calls we attend. As well as backing up our police colleagues, it is not unusual for the teams to perform emergency critical care treatment including CPR to patients every other day. We have the same lifesaving equipment as any other ambulance, and our paramedics are some of the most experienced and capable in the Ambulance Service. I have personally been involved in saving six patients who were clinically dead on our arrival first on scene, and getting them to hospital alive. This part of the job often involves expose to higher levels of trauma and distressing scenes, but can also be the most rewarding.

I joined the Mental Health Triage team because… I wanted a new challenge after 10 years on a front line response team, and have always been mental health oriented. I have previous personal experience of mental health and people in crisis, and had always admired the officers who paved the way before me in creating and developing the Street Triage approach since 2014. Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in modern policing, and require a joined up approach together with our partner agencies as it is not a trend which can be solved by police alone.

The best part of the job…apart from the great people I work with, is being able to monitor long term solutions for our patients. We often attend the four mental health hospitals in the Black Country area, and I always get stopped by patients who thank us for intervening and helping them access help when they were in crisis. Response officers aren’t thanked enough for the work they do every day, and it’s often easy to forget the positive impact our officers can have on the lives of people in our communities.

If you’d like to follow Chris’ into policing, take a look at what our student police officer programme can offer you, today.