Training for First Responders
Ten percent of police calls involve a person with a mental illness, and surveys of officers suggest that they don't feel adequately trained to respond to mental health crises, that mental health calls are very time-consuming and divert officers from other crime fighting activities, and that mental health providers are not very responsive.
Sources: The Washington Post, 2016; Cooper, McLearen & Zapf, 2004; Vermette, Pinals & Appelbuam, 2005; Wells & Schafer, 2006
Crisis intervention training (CIT) helps officers understand how to approach a mental health related crisis call, including the basic principles of deescalation. Training is offered through NEOMED.
Ohio ASSIST, a collaboration between Ohio Departments of Public Safety (ODPS) and Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), offers three-day Post Critical Incident Seminars (PCIS), known as Ohio ASSIST. To date, 135 first responders and their support persons have come together and worked through traumas experienced on the job.
“After the Call” Training provides public safety agency administrators with ideas, concepts and techniques they can use to help themselves during and after traumatic incidents so they may provide guidance and oversight.
Crisis Awareness Training provides participants examples of signs that they or a co-worker, family member or friend may be in crisis after a traumatic event brought about by an incident at work, personal life or as the result of the cumulative effects of exposure to traumatic situations. Additionally, it offers techniques to assist the person in crisis. Considerable time is focused on addiction and addiction related issues and how they affect public safety personnel.
The First Responder Suicide Awareness and Assisting Survivors course explains that each year, the number of first responder suicides actually exceeds the number line-of-duty deaths. For example, in 2018, 163 law enforcement officers took their own lives while there were 150 line of duty deaths. And since January 2016, 17 Ohio officers were confirmed to have taken their own lives. One theory as to why suicide is so prevalent in this population is that first responders are placed daily in the almost impossible situation of having to anticipate and be responsible for the actions of others. And when they are unable to prevent disaster from striking, a vicious cycle of guilt, shame and anger may ensue. Due to the fact public safety personnel are trained to help others, they are often reluctant to ask for help for themselves when they might genuinely need. Similarly, colleagues, supervisors and loved ones who fail to recognize the signs of distress before suicides are attempted are often haunted by the intrusive emotions of guilt, shame and anger as well.
This awareness course provides tools and techniques to guide a person contemplating suicide to a qualified mental health professional so that healing may begin.
The Bridge supports all active and retired First Responders and their families, loved ones, or caregivers experiencing, or have experienced, and traumatic or life-altering event. The Bridge promotes personal growth and healthy relationships with a multi-faceted approach in a safe and confidential environment. The Bridge provides confidential, expense free retreats for first responders who have experienced a traumatic or life-altering event or who are experiencing depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.