How To Begin Planning For A Police or Firefighter Training Center

Start With The End In Mind

That is a key point to keep in mind when planning for a new police, fire or combined training facility. Focus not just on what you need today, but also on your future needs.  Because of the costs involved, a new police or firefighter facility will likely have to service your department for twenty, thirty or even fifty years down the road. Decisions made in this critical early planning stage will impact the generations that come after you. Sounds a little dramatic, but its so very very true.

Take your time and get the early phase planning right

In the fast-changing world of public safety, more and more public safety departments are finding that their current training facilities are outdated and sorely lacking in the equipment, technology and props needed to adequately train their growing numbers of police and firefighters. Both within departments themselves and within the communities they serve, most people recognize the need for highly trained professionals that serve in their community. But while the need is easily acknowledged, figuring out how to plan and ultimately finding funding for a new or refurbished facility is often daunting for most public safety departments.

Early stage planning is essential. Any new business venture is enhanced by a straightforward, well-researched plan — and police and fire training centers are no exception. With any new venture in the private sector, a small business startup, new product release, or facility expansion the approving authority (such as a board of directors or a bank) wants to see a plan. They will,“What are you going to do with the money?”

The common term used in the private sector is “Business Plan.” I think it is equally appropriately used when developing or enhancing a public safety or OSHA training center. Many of the elements of a training center are similar to starting a business or launching a project. Here are some similar questions that pertain to both a public safety department and private industry:

  • What will it cost to build? (Construction costs)
  • What will it cost to operate? (Annual Operations and Maintenance Costs)
  • Who is going to use it? (Needs Assessment)
  • What facilities are needed? (Building type, Classrooms, Props)
  • Why build it? (Cost justification)

Using the private sector analogy again, a strong, well-conceived Business Plan answers the following questions: How, What, Where, When, Why. For the public sector, such as a   police, fire or any public safety department, there are long-term consequences to a safe, secure and accessible training center project. As mentioned above, the project being planned today will have impact for many future generations.   For this reason the word “Strategic” needs to be added. By definition – Strategic means

“Important or essential in relation to a plan of action” and “Highly important to an intended objective.”

Training Center Strategic Business Plan

In developing a Strategic Business Plan for the development of a police, fire or public safety training center, it is imperative to fully assess the needs of the department (needs assessment) and other involved entities (potential partner agencies), cost of building (construction costs) and in the case of maintaining the facility (annual operations costs). Departments also need to look to the future, mapping out their expected growth and the training requirements that will accompany that expansion (this is the “strategic” element).

The Interact Business Group specializes in delivering the “full equation” with its comprehensive Strategic Business Plan. A solid strategic business plan assesses current and future needs, identifies costs and synergies and culminates with a clear funding objective. It becomes the tool that allows stakeholders (key decision makers) to say “YES.” And once your project is underway, it severs as a blueprint for success.

Think Like a Businessman

Early stage planning is absolutely essential. Think of the training center project like a businessman who is starting a new venture. The basic elements are the same: cost to build, cost to operate, who will use it, what facilities are needed, and finally why build it in the first place. Keep these in mind. The future depends on it!


Additional Resources On This Topic

Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:

LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning
Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Public Safety Training Newsletter Available

The Public Safety Training Newsletter began in 2003 as an information source for our customers. Our customers told us that information specific to public safety training was not available. The large publications and web sites had grown too large, too diverse and unwieldy, finding information specific to public safety training was either not available or just plain too hard to find. Listening to our customers, we decided to publish a one-stop source for news, events, technical data, product information & trends and success stories for the public safety training industry.

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10 Years Later

Now, 10 years later, the Public Safety Training Newsletter has grown to over 8,000 readers and 15,000 soical network folowers. and has become the go to source for public safety training news, trends and events.

Click HERE to see the archive page of past issues and to begin receiving the newsletter.

 

Training for Mental Health Response

Brain Mental Health

Scanning the news over the past few months we have noticed a growing uptick in the number of stories involving first responders and calls involving Mental Health Issues. This got us wondering: What is going on? Are these types of calls for service being placed in a new category? Have they been underreported in the past due to negative public perception? Is mental health (finally) being recognized as a true health issue, not a social issue among the less fortunate in our society? We were shocked and amazed at what we found.

Shocking Stats

One in four adults and 10 percent of children in the United States will suffer from a mental health illness this year. Mental disorders are more common than heart disease and cancer combined — the leading causes of death.

Among all Americans, 36.2 million people paid for mental health services totaling $57.5 billion in 2006. This means the average expenditure per person was $1,591. Within this group, 4.6 million children received mental health services totaling $8.9 billion. The average expenditure per child was higher than that for the average American at $1,931.” NIMH

“You’re more likely to see someone having a panic attack than you are to see someone having a heart attack,” says Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council).

First A Definition

Dictionary.com defines the term “first aid” as emergency aid or treatment given to someone injured, suddenly ill, etc., before regular medical services arrive or can be reached.When you add the words “mental health” in front of it, it doesn’t necessarily change its meaning, it simply redirects it towards assisting someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis–such as helping an individual who is having a panic attack, contemplating suicide or has overdosed on drugs or alcohol. (EMS World)

The National Impact of Mental Health Disorder

    • Approximately 5 percent of U.S. residents have a serious mental illness,and 10 to 15 percent of jailed people have severe mental illness.[2]
    • An estimated 7 percent of police contacts in jurisdictions with 100,000 or more people involve the mentally ill.[3]
    • A three-city study found that 92 percent of patrol officers had at least one encounter with a mentally ill person in crisis in the previous month,[4] and officers averaged six such encounters per month.
    • The Lincoln (Nebraska) Police Department found that it handled over 1,500 mental health investigation cases in 2002, and that it spent more time on these cases than on injury traffic accidents, burglaries, or felony assaults.[5]
    • The New York City Police Department responds to about 150,000 “emotionally disturbed persons” calls per year.[6]

Common Response Solutions

Responders (police, firefighters and EMTs) encounter people with mental illness in many different types of situations, in roles that include criminal offenders, disorderly persons, missing persons, complainants, victims, and persons in need of care. According to one Texas study,[7] the five most frequent scenarios are as follows:

    • A family member, friend, or other concerned person calls the police for help during a psychiatric emergency.
    • A person with mental illness feels suicidal and calls the police as a cry for help.
    • Police officers encounter a person with mental illness behaving inappropriately in public.
    • Citizens call the police because they feel threatened by the unusual behavior or the mere presence of a person with mental illness.
    • A person with mental illness calls the police for help because of imagined threats.

These are the most common situations in which responders encounter people with mental illness. It is important to realize, though, that when police officers handle some of these situations they do not always realize that mental illness is involved (such as a shoplifting or a disorderly person). Officers may try to handle the situation as usual (by giving directions, issuing commands, or making an arrest, for example) but not get the cooperation or compliance expected, sometimes leading to escalating tension. This highlights the importance of training in mental illness recognition as well as crisis management techniques.

Other Related Problems

Problem of people with mental illness is closely connected to three other problems; 1) Homelessness, 2) Drug Abuse, and 3) Alcohol Abuse- Here are several statistics:

    • Honolulu study found that 74 percent of law violators who the police believed to have a mental disorder were also homeless.[15]
    • In London, about 30 percent of minor offenders referred for admission to a station-house diversion program for the “mentally disordered” were living on the streets.[16]

Solutions

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. So far, 60,000 people have been trained in 43 states and Washington, D.C. There are 2,100 trainers, says Meena Dayak, council vice president of marketing and communications.

Participants in the training learn how to detect a number of mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, substance use disorders, depression, anxiety and eating disorders — and how to respond to people who have them. Their response is guided by a five-step action plan, termed “ALGEE,” which stands for:

    1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
    2. Listen nonjudgmentally.
    3. Give reassurance and information.
    4. Encourage appropriate professional help.
    5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

One of the program’s main goals is to erase the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. “It wasn’t long ago that cancer wasn’t openly spoken about,” says Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council). “Mental illness is the last illness that people talk about in whispers.” But that will change, she says, once Mental Health First Aid becomes as common as CPR training — something she sees as inevitable.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)

CIT Training is a training program developed to help police officers react appropriately to situations involving mental illness or developmental disability. There are two nationally recognized organizations supporting CIT programs. Both organizations recognize the need for first responder mental health training. Suicide attempts and mental health crisis concerns are recognized as a priority. The organizations have established programs for disseminating recommended standards for developing, implementing and sustaining crisis intervention programs.

CIT Success Stories

    1. Las Vegas Metro Officer named CIT Officer of the Year – Brooke Lavin
    2. Every department in Maine “should strive to maintain at least one CIT officer per shift,”
    3. Mental health squad backs up law enforcement

Mental Health Response, Recent News

    • The NYPD’s Poor Judgment With the Mentally Ill—The death of Shereese Francis has rekindled a decades-long debate over the NYPD’s treatment of the mentally ill. As the first responders to all sorts of emergency calls, police officers are on the front line for just about every social problem in the city, and mental illness is no exception. The department estimates that it handles nearly 100,000 calls for “Emotionally Disturbed Persons” every year—hundreds a day. Every few years, one of those calls goes so badly that somebody dies. (continue…)
    • School Student was BipolarThe family of a Cal State San Bernardino graduate student who was fatally shot by campus police Saturday released a statement late Tuesday confirming that the man was bipolar and enrolled as a disabled student when he was killed. (continue..)
    • Officer Sentenced In Death Of Man With Mental Disabilities—A police officer was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison for using excessive force against a mentally disabled janitor who died after being erroneously suspected of stealing money from an ATM. (continue…)
    • Houston cops accused of deadly force on unarmed, disabled man“The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that its civil rights division is investigating allegations that Houston police officers used excessive force against unarmed suspects including the killing of an emotionally disturbed, double-amputee.” (continue…)

For more in-depth research and study on Mental Health we encourage you to visit and read the following excellent reports.

  1. People with Mental Illness / Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (COPS) – http://www.popcenter.org/problems/mental_illness/print/
  2. Governments Discover Need for Mental Health First Aid / www.Governing.com
  3. World Health Organization report “Human Resources And Training Mental Health
Endnotes:
[2] Lamb, Weinberger, and Gross (2004): 108. [Abstract only]
[3] Deane et al. (1999). [Full text]
[4] Borum et al. (1998): 401. [Abstract only]
[5] Lincoln Police Department (2004).
[6] Waldman (2004). [Full text]
[7] Peck (2003): 6. [Full text]
[15] Green (1997): 476.
[16] James (2000): 538.

Fire Apparatus Drivers Program

The DPSST Regional Fire Section is no stranger to remote delivery and over the last ten years has purchased a number of training props that can be moved around the state to assist with the needs of the Oregon Fire Service. The latest addition to the Oregon Fire Training toolbox is the Skid Avoidance for Fire Apparatus Drivers (SAFAD) Program. As designed, the program is similar to that used by the law enforcement community with the noticeable difference between the Fire Service and that of law enforcement training being the use of a Ford F-650 crew cab truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating up to 24,000 pounds instead of the police package sedan. The concept of the program started several years ago and came together towards the end of 2008 and early 2009 as a result of several tragic accidents involving Oregon Fire Service drivers. As with law enforcement emergency vehicle operation course (EVOC), the foundation of the Fire Service Program is a sound base of training that emphasizes the dynamics or performance characteristics of the vehicle, an awareness of the space occupied by the vehicle and how this impacts the overall environment, taking into consideration driving conditions.

Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency

Once the base knowledge, skills and abilities have been established or identified through such standards as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency, the SAFAD curriculum provides the actual hands on experience to support and reinforce the base training.

In designing the program the goal was established to provide each attending operator the psychomotor skills and mental attitudes that are essential to becoming the most competent, skillful and responsible driver possible. Overall, the program performance objective is to reduce Oregon’s statistical numbers in the national list of accidents and injuries. In the past 12 years, 16 Oregon firefighters were killed in vehicle crashes while on duty.

SKIDCAR Systems

To deliver the training, various solutions were considered, with DPSST ultimately choosing SKIDCAR Systems. The SKIDCAR System consists of two hydraulic platforms mounted to the front and rear axles of the truck. An instructor who is seated next to the driver adjusts the grip using a computer that is slaved to the hydraulic platforms. The instructor is able to create and repeat circumstances where it is possible for the driver to lose control, experience common roadway hazards, and do so at low speeds with no physical risk to the driver, instructor, or equipment.

See the full article here
Article from: DPSST November 2012 Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 3
Department of Public Safety, Standards & Training, 4190 Aumsville Hwy SE Salem, OR 97317

3 Trends – Jobs in Public Safety

I have highlighted three job creation trends specific to public safety: internships, high school programs and veteran programs. The following articles from Emergency Management and Fire Chief Magazines respectively outline two excellent programs that are not necessarily new but are more timely and essential than ever. The third article is the announcement of the Veterans Job Corps initiative to help returning veterans. Please let me know what you think and if you have any jobs programs from your community you would like to share.

Law Enforcement and Fire Service Training Trends

In today’s fast-paced environment, traditional classroom learning does not fully meet the training needs of police officers and fireman in dispersed organizations. Just as the Web is a critical business component, eLearning is now a critical learning component for organizations. Fast, anytime access to engaging content that is tracked and recorded enables organizations to enhance training in employee skills and competencies. Contextual learning in a more informal setting is the wave of the future as younger tech-savvy personnel enter the workforce. With the cost of implementing e-learning tools falling, more governments, businesses, and schools have added online courses and other forms of distance learning to their organizations. As evidence, The Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services reported a total of 593,167 course completions in 2009-10.

There has been widespread research by academics, corporations and scientists on the effectiveness of e-learning. The overarching result of all the recent studies has been that pure online learning is as efficient as pure face-to-face learning and can be better in some cases where the student has no time limitation. It has also been found that classroom learning enhanced by some online learning is the best approach to education. A recent meta-analysis[2 the US Department of Education proved the above facts. In addition to being effective, it has also been proven in a Forrester Research study that e-learning earns organizations a positive ROI in less than a year.

The e-learning industry is expected to see a lot more changes in the next 5 years than what it has seen over the past decade, primarily because of the technological advancements. Mobile instruments (phones, tablets) are expected to become the platforms of choice. Learners will utilize content when they need it. Games and simulations will become an integral part of workplace learning. We will see the emergence of personalized learning systems. All these will lead to shift in the way we measure performance with an increased emphasis on cost efficiency.

Public Safety Must Find Better Ways To Train

With budget cuts and staff reductions departments must find better and more manageable ways of delivering training. Only a short few years ago I began to see private companies offering training programs as “slide presentations” (the paper kind). Then after a couple of years we saw the introduction of the Computer Based Training (CBT) that was software based. In reality most were the paper slides with a few pictures thrown in. Ho how far we have come!

The following link will lead you to a download link to a white paper based on an extensive study of Law Enforcement and Fire Service Training Trends.

“Public Safety Training Trends Courseware Assessment Paper”

DHS Guidance Released Preparedness Grants

Grant DollarsSecretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released the fiscal year 2011 grant guidance and application kits for 12 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs totaling $2.1 billion to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, nonprofit agencies and the private sector in strengthening the nation’s ability to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In fiscal 2011, DHS grants were reduced by $780 million from the fiscal 2010 enacted level, nearly one-quarter of fiscal 2010 DHS grant funding.

Continue to read…

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This article reprinted by permission of:
Emergency Management
http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/DHS-Guidance-Fiscal-2011-Preparedness-Grants.html