Trending Topics

Managing the acutely agitated behavioral health emergency

Key takeaways for police and EMS from SWAT physician, Dr. Faroukh M. Mehkri

Sponsored by

Photo/Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune

This episode of EMS One-Stop with Rob Lawrence is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit

Faroukh M. Mehkri is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas SW Medical Center as well as a SWAT physician with the Dallas Police Department. He recently presented a session at the International Association of Police Chiefs Conference in Dallas, “Management of the acutely agitated behavioral health emergency: A patrol nightmare.”

In this edition of EMS One-Stop, Host Rob Lawrence chats with Dr. Mehkri about his lecture and his 15-month deep dive into behavioral health emergency patients, their outcomes, the situations surrounding the calls, and both police and EMS interventions.

Dr. Mehkri delivers key takeaways for both a police and EMS audience:

  1. Words matter, in your documentation and on your body camera
  2. Physical restraint kills – so we must minimize this activity
  3. Chemical sedation for medication management saves. “Inviting” the medic to “just give them something” is a slippery slope
  4. Monitor, monitor, monitor
  5. The person is the patient!

Read more about treating behavioral emergencies

This article was originally posted Oct. 31, 2022. It has been updated.

Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. He is currently the director of strategic implementation for PRO EMS and its educational arm, Prodigy EMS, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part-time executive director of the California Ambulance Association.

He previously served as the chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (Virginia), which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his 10-year tenure. Additionally, he served as COO for Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California.

Prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 2008, Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a former Army officer and graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in a 20-year military career encompassing many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles.

Rob is a board member of the Academy of International Mobile Healthcare Integration (AIMHI) as well as chair of the American Ambulance Association’s State Association Forum. He writes and podcasts for EMS1 and is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Connect with him on Twitter.