Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT)

A crisis intervention team in Indianapolis that responds to behavioral health crises to divert individuals away from the criminal justice and healthcare systems

The Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT) is a collaboration between the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS), the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), and Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health that responds to mental health, substance use, and medical crises. This coordinated response is designed with the ultimate goal of diverting individuals in behavioral health crises away from the criminal justice system and emergency department and towards treatment and social services.

The MCAT team is comprised of a police officer, a paramedic, and a licensed mental health professional who is trained in how to de-escalate situations. The team responds to crises calls (e.g. mental health crisis, drug overdose, suicide ideation/attempt) throughout the city, and team members are trained to link individuals to the most appropriate services. The pilot program began in 2017 in one part of the city. Once the program was expanded after the pilot, the IEMS downscaled their involvement to only responding to calls that required a paramedic (e.g. drug overdoses) to most efficiently allocate city resources. 

The MCAT shares many similarities with a previously implemented crisis intervention program, CAHOOTS. More detailed information on the program can be found in this independent evaluation and in this issue brief. Contact information can be found in this article

The program resulted in transportation of a person to jail in less than 2% of all responses. 

Continuum of Care
Harm Reduction
Type of Evidence
Report with evaluation
Response Approach
Crisis intervention
Early Intervention
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

From an independent evaluation:

  • MCAT transported a person to jail in less than 2% of all responses during the pilot
  • Eighty-five percent of IMPD East District police officers surveyed indicated the MCAT unit was very useful or extremely useful to them as an additional resource in responding to emergencies
  • MCAT units were able to relieve one or more other first response units from the scene of an emergency in two-thirds of all runs during the study period
  • 59% of the calls the MCATs responded to involved mental health crises, followed by drug overdoses and threats of suicide

"A significant barrier to successful program implementation is that of role conflict and stigma....cultural and systematic barriers to co-response team success should be understood prior to program creation and used to guide implementation. Furthermore, attention must be directed to cultivating community and professional support for co-response teams." (Bailey et al., 2018)