Need Help Implementing Online Training At Your Fire or Police Department?

How did you answer the question?

“Yes, we need to do something.”

“Yes, we tried, but we have to make a change.”

“Yes, we need to get started, let’s give it a try.”

“We have already started, it’s working, but we can do better.”

I recently taught a class titled, “Strategies & Tactics for Success with On-Line Training and Education.” The class focused on online training in public safety departments. The audience was Training Officers,  Directors, Chiefs, Department Budget Staff, Technology Officers, and Instructors.

Sound Familiar?

Most class attendees fell into one of the following four categories:

  1. We have been meaning to look into computer based training, but can’t seem to find the time or budget.
  2. We don’t know really how or where to begin.
  3. We need to reduce our training budget; will computer courses help me do that?
  4. Yes, we bought some on-line courses, it’s working OK, but we can do better.

NOTE: Although the class was attended primarily by fire service staff, the subject matter of Online and E-Learning could easily crossed over to law enforcement and all areas of safety training.

Why You Should Keep Reading

Attendees to the class or readers of this post (you) have an interest in learning about how to:

  1. Start using online learning courses and technology.
  2. You are in the early staging of incorporating online training and want to avoid rookie mistakes.
  3. Develop a tactical (short term) and strategic (long term) plan for using and benefiting from online learning.

Following is a summary synopsis of the class.

#1 – Start With The End In Mind

If a public safety department, police, fire, EMS, etc. is considering implementation of online learning technologies the training chief or project team leader must establish their end game goals. Using the following three principles when developing the specific goals and objectives for the project will serve as the guiding principals for the project.

  • Be specific—identify exactly what you want to accomplish with as many specific details as possible.
  • Be measurable—as the old adage says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
  • Be realistic—set goals and objectives that reach beyond the comfort zone, but are also realistic. Be careful with this one.

#2 Establish Implementation Tactics

There are ten key implementation tactics needed for successful implementation of online learning for a public safety department; they include:

  1. Establish a project team. Include other “banner carriers” and allies.
  2. Define the vision and goals. What does a successful program look like?
  3. Define learning needs and wants. Why are we doing this and what solution does it provide?
  4. Define established technology infrastructure. What does your existing technical infrastructure look like?
  5. Define existing courseware. What do already have that can be used or repurposed?
  6. Baseline available technologies and courseware. What technology is available in the marketplace?
  7. Develop implementation and phasing scenario. What is your step-by-step approach?
  8. Develop cost budgets. Consider purchasing equipment, software, hired technical assistance, and so on.
  9. Measure and evaluate cost benefits. Set milestones that are measurable, observable, and serve as progress markers.
  10. Management buy-in and funding. Get everyone on the same page and get them to support the endeavor.

Where and How To Begin

As illustrated in the 10 implementation tactics, getting started requires considerable planning, management buy-in, technology understanding, and funding. When first staring out ask yourself the following seven questions. This a good starting point and the questions will help you to understand the full needs, impact and depth of the project:

  1. What authoring system should we use?
  2. Should we buy off-the-shelf prepackaged software?
  3. Should we develop our own courses?
  4. What type of hardware do we need?
  5. Will it keep us compliant with legal requirements?
  6. How do we track and schedule our training?
  7. What class topics will be best learned through e-learning?

This post is intended to provide a short synopsis of how to get started with implementing online training programs for your department. Again, this is just a guideline to get the ball moving.

Share Your Story

If you use computer based training what was the biggest hurdle to overcome at the beginning? For example:

  • Staff acceptance
  • Management acceptance
  • Allocating funding
  • Acquiring hardware

Leave your ” biggest=”” hurdle”=”” comment=”” in=”” the=”” space=”” below.<=”” p=””>

Additional Information Sources


More Ways to Learn:

  1. LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  2. Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, event and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates
  3. 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.
  4. Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, around twice a week on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Combined Fire and Police Training Center May Cut Costs By $300,000

The combined Fire and Police Training Center in Round Rock Texas (near Austin) may cut current training cost by around $300,000. Earlier this year Interact Business Group completed a strategic business plan for the project that took into account existing training conditions, including travel to out of area training locations, staff overtime and equipment efficiencies. The combined training center project cost estimate is $38.3 million and is being planned for voter approval on November’s ballot as a bond issue.

“This is looking at the future of not only the police officers safety, but the citizens safety,” said Round Rock Police Training Sgt. Sean Johnson. “As we grow (population of more than 100,000), we need a training area to allow our officers to be the best that they can get.”


See the Sgt Sean Johnson interview and XKAN news report

Most, if not all, training would be done right on site, eliminating travel costs and time. It would also cut the cost of officers and firefighters being away from their regular posts.

It’s not just a dollar issue for the city’s emergency responders. “There are (high risk calls) that don’t happen in the real world every day,” Johnson said. “So, if we don’t practice those skills, it’s a perishable skill, then we’ll lose that skill set.”

The strategic plan identified several key factors in the analysis:

  1. What are the current and future training needs? 
  2. What are the training need priorities?
  3. What will it cost to build the facility?   
  4. What are the preliminary site plans and equipment requirements? 
  5. What will it cost to annually operate the facility?
  6. What are the potential revenue opportunities from outside users?
  7. Are there possible partnering arrangements with other area departments?
  8. What is the cost benefit of a facility over existing conditions training?

A key training hurdle facing the departments was finding local public spaces for repetitive training. For example, fire trucks are forbidden from doing repeated driver exercises on open parking lot areas. That’s because the 80,000 pound vehicles tear up the pavement there.

“Having an area that’s designed specifically for that is going to be valuable,” said assistant chief Billy Wusterhausen.

Sandy Hook is an example of a mass casualty incident where first responders would be more effective if they had repeated training with other departments.

 “As we grow out to that 250,000 population and we’re still the second safest city in the United States, we will have done it right,” Sgt. Johnson said.

Fire Chief David Coatney said depending on what Round Rock voters agree to, the build-out could happen in stages to spread out the cost over several years.

Some training elements being considered for the combined fire and police training center include:

  • Firearms Complex
  • Urban Training Area
  • High Speed Driving Center
  • Driver Avoidance Pad
  • Live Fire Burn Training Rooms
  • Multi-Story Tower
  • Outside Training City Grid
  • Technical Rescue Props
  • Swift Water Rescue Prop
  • Wildland Fire Training Area

Local Round Rock firm KAH Architecture and Interior Design assisted Interact Business Group in the development of the training center site layout.

To read more about similar police and fire department training center projects and more details about Strategic Business Planning Process follow the links below

  • 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.

Click HERE to read more

On-Line Courseware Trends and Evaluation Study

On Line Learning Fire and Police Departments

On Line Learning Fire and Police Departments

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. Last month I listed the seven how first responders learn and assimilate information. These seven guidelines further validate a study I conducted on the status and condition of on-line leaning in the fire service. The study included the independent evaluation of several common topics of study that are currently being offered for sale to the fire service by private courseware providers. Using a national group of fire service professionals active and retired, from large metro departments, volunteer departments, academia we audited and evaluated courses based on 14 predefined criteria.

Statement of Situation

Within the public safety sector, in-particular to this assessment, the blended learning requirements of theoretical and practical fire services training activities coupled with dramatic budget constraints are creating challenges to agencies nationwide. While distance education formats have been embraced, the breadth of offerings available, the lacking mechanisms to assess quality and value, along with burdensome subscriptions costs and disconnected Learning Management Systems were identified in the study.

The Intent of the Study

  • Identify the macro trends of distance education and the associated market impacts to the public safety communities.
  • Secure and evaluate common training course modules from leading content development companies.
  • Define a course utilizing an established evaluation criterion assessment matrix and weighting system.
  • Establish an independent evaluation panel from both academia and Training Directors from notable fire service agencies/organizations.
  • Provide a summary of findings and recommendations.

Click on this link to read and download the full report. On-Line Courseware Trends and Evaluation Study, Fire Service Training

 

Police and Fire Academies Hiring: Is the Tide Turning?

We have all read the headlines and many have felt the reality of reduced or eliminated public safety recruit academies over the past 4 years. As the Managing Editor of Responder Gateway, I keep a close eye on technology trends, events making news, chatter around the coffee pot and reports from our sponsors. Starting last September I began to notice a change. Have we turned the corner on reduced Fire/EMS and Police hiring? Can we state without a doubt that the worst of the hiring freeze is over? As with most things, there is no absolute yes or no answer. However, as the old song goes, “The Times They Are a Changin’.” In August/September of 2012, we began to see headlines such as this one from Toledo Ohio: “42 begin 26-week push to become Toledo officers.” Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs said the new officers are “desperately needed.” The department went years without hiring a police class and in the last year-and-a-half, has been trying to play catch-up and bolster the ranks amid retirements and a gap in hiring. Police Cadet

Division Chief Michael T McIntosh of the Adams County Sherriff’s Office in Colorado reports “We have certainly seen an uptick in our Academies. We, for the first time in 5 years had every seat filled in our Academy, in fact we had 7 additional seats causing me to conduct skills training on Saturday. Our July Academy is already full and my staff is ready to kill me because I asked them to look at the possibilities of running a third academy. Needless to say, business is very good!

Psychologist use a term called “perceptual vigilance.” In layman’s terms, perceptual vigilance occurs when one becomes aware of something, such as news and conversation, and your mind changes the way it filters your impressions of it. Suddenly, it seems like the thing you’re interested in is appearing all the time.

Now in 2013, we see this trend of new recruit academies springing up in many parts of the country. This resurgence of new hires is not limited to just police or just fire – it’s occurring across both disciplines. So why now? What has changed or is changing? Several factors can be attributed to the hiring upswing, including:

  • Overtime Savings – Last year, Providence, RI Mayor Taveras stated at a new academy class ceremony that “The new fire academy will create good family jobs in our city and at the same time save up to $1 million annually by reducing overtime costs.”
  • Community Risk Reduction Program – In January the Philadelphia Firefighter Academy graduated its first firefighting class trained in the new Community Risk Reduction Program.
  • Hiring Due to Attrition – In Joliet, IL, staffing is down in the police department due to attrition and early retirements. The city looked for ways to save money to ward off budget shortfalls in recent years. But now the city intends to replace retirees to maintain staffing levels by adding 10 new officers to the existing staff. The city is also taking a new approach to hiring by seeking trained and certified officers. This will save the city money and allow officers to help out immediately.
  • Departments Training Together to Reduce Academy Costs – In Anoka County, MN fire departments identified the serious need to bring training into one place to reduce training costs. The combined efforts of 15 department chiefs found that over the next four years, 236 new firefighters would be needed to keep the departments at their current staffing levels.
  • Academy SAFER Grant Success – The academy in Anoka County received a $1.57 million SAFER grant in August 2012. The grant fully funds the academy for the next four years, including medical screening and equipment. It also includes a $500 bonus for the academy graduates if they stay with their departments for a year.

Speaking with several academy directors, there is an impressive focus on background, experience, and age of the new recruits. As new academies begin, the standard of new student (recruits) has never been higher. Several commons factors among police and fire academies seem to be overriding contributors to the selection of new recruits:

  • It is common place to see very large numbers of applicants for very few academy slots. For example:
    • In San Jose, CA there were 800 applicants for 52 positions and city reports 1,400 applicants for its next academy class.
    • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has notified 2,800 eligible candidates who previously expressed continued interest in police jobs that up to 175 will be selected for their July academy.
  • Diverse backgrounds and experience are also driving high recruit hiring standards. Recruits with military backgrounds and recent multiple combat deployments on their resumes are common. Academy selection committees are enthusiastic about the work experience and discipline these individuals bring to the table and are pleased that they are able to employ veterans. It’s not uncommon in today’s recruit academy class to have new recruits between 27 and 35 years old; veterans; those looking for second careers choices; and those with advanced college degrees. Here are several examples of today’s experience and diversity:
  • Rochester, NY- Fire Academy consisting of 24 city residents includes one Asian male, two white females, one African American female, 11 African American males and nine white males; five of these recruits are also military veterans.
  • Madison, WI – Graduated 20 new firefighters from its recruit academy. Some examples of the recruit background include: USMC Reserves, Degree in Fire Protection Technician, Accounting and Paramedic License, Degree in Business Marketing, Degree from Northern Michigan University. One new recruit holds certificates in Firefighter I & II, Driver/Operator – Pumper, EMT – Basic, Fire Inspector I, Driver/Operator- Aerial, Fire Officer I, and Fire Instructor I.
  • Huntsville, AL – HAS just graduated 32 cadets, its largest and most diverse academy ever. The March 2013 graduating class includes 7 African American, 17 white males, 5 white females, 2 black females, 1 Asian female.

If my perceptual vigilance is accurate, we should not call the era of training academy cancellations and postponements a thing of the past; however, the darkest days seem to be behind us. Most job watch statistics derived from the leading job search platforms indicate an optimistic public safety job outlook over the next few years. This is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

DOL forecasts that employment for police officers will experience growth through 2014 with competition remaining high due to attractive salaries and benefits, particularly with state and federal agencies. Further, recruits with college training in police science, military police experience, or both should have the best opportunities. Firefighter recruit statistics are also expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Just as with police recruits, fire recruits will see strong competition for academy slots.

Going forward, and now with your “perceptual vigilance’ on full alert, keep an eye and ear on news and events in your community. It seems to me that recruit academies are going to get very busy in the very near future. And that’s one change in the tide we’d all like to see.

Fire District Picks Site For Training

Firefighters In Training

Firefighters In Training

Fire district officials will look to a new site to build a new fire and police training facility due to “significant issues” in the area near the city’s wastewater lagoon. According to City Administrator Russell Rost, a training tower could possibly be built behind the Union Fire Protection District […]

Public Safety Departments and College Partnerships

Over the past 15 years collaboration between polLCCC PSTI Dedication-08_021ice, fire departments and community colleges to share or co-locate training centers has had hot and cold periods. In 1998 the Regional Public Safety Training Center Washoe County Nevada was a joint effort between multiple agencies including the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, City of Reno, City of Sparks, and Truckee Meadows Community College. In 2003 Luzerne Community College began work on a multi agency, Public Safety Training Institute. Universities also remain a strong partner with public safety training schools like the University of West Virginia State Fire Academy that was formed in 1974 and in 2003 undated its training facilities at Jackson’s Mill to accommodate increased demand.

Since the economic down turn of 2008 collaboration efforts has turned hot once again. In a recent national bench DSC00042marking survey undertaking by IBG the “trend” of, merging public safety agencies and colleges has yielded significant improvement to training delivery, curriculum development teamwork, and more important open and cooperative communication between all groups.

In February 2012, IBG initiated a benchmarking effort to “validate the possible” by researching and identifying community colleges that excel in providing public safety training programs to not only their students but also provide training and/or training facilities to agencies within their regional. In order for a Community College to be selected for benchmarking it had to meet certain criteria. First, it must serve multiple disciplines within the public safety/public services fields (i.e. not just police and fire). Second, it must provide a wide range of training programs and curriculum that extend beyond the typical (i.e. shooting range, live fire training) public safety offerings.  Third, it must be affiliated with a two-year or four-year college. IBG closely examined the physical attributes, partnerships and affiliations, programs and curriculums, and management practices of these exceptional training centers. Benchmarking Information Sheets were prepared for each one. The sheets provide insight in a quick read format into what is being done well and what could be improved or changed at these facilities. Based on experience and familiarity with training centers across the nation, IBG identified five of them that are nationally-recognized as training centers of excellence:

  1. Luzerne County Community College Public Safety Training Institute
  2. Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy
  3. Tarrant County College Public Safety Institute
  4. Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex
  5. Washoe County Regional Public Safety Training Center

Today many joint training center partnerships are underway or being formed. Most recently reported was the tentative agreement (details still being worked out) between Madison College and the Madison Fire Department in Madison WI. Other very successful partnerships between colleges and public agencies are reported at the Flatrock Training Center near Denver, Rouge Community College near Medford, OR provide both criminal justice and Emergency Fire Services curriculums that local agencies find very beneficial.

Community colleges play an integral role in public safety training – after all, their goal is to excel at education. Depending on the partnership structure, community colleges can provide something as simple as a steady stream of students or as complex as full management of training center operations. Increasingly, departments are partnering with community colleges. The result is that each benefits exponentially from the skills of the others. Partnerships also enhance both the numbers and the diversity of the student population. Some may be full-time college students, others working firefighters or law enforcement officers.

There are probably as many ways to structure partnerships between community colleges and public agencies as there are training centers in the country. In 2013 and for the foreseeable future partnerships will remain essential and will continue to grow. If a department is considering the development or modification of a training center a college the same partnerships should be at the top of any priority list.

Gun Control & Public Safety, The Debate Rages

There has been lot has been written, fingers have been pointed, names have been called – with both sides appearing to remain firmly entrenched in their positions.Gun Control Debate President Obama and the NRA are going head to head in the public arena. So will the Gun Control debate be resolved anytime soon? Keeping within the context of this newsletter, Public Safety Training Newsletter we will do our best to provide some background, data and facts from the first responder perspective.

One Debate – Two Sides

New York Side 1—New York’s Assembly easily passed the toughest gun control law in the nation. “This is a scourge on society,” Cuomo said. Prime point of the law are:

  • Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family will be subject to a background check through a dealer.
  • Barred from buying assault weapons over the Internet
  • Failing to safely store a weapon could lead to a misdemeanor charge.
  • Ammunition magazines will be restricted to seven bullets.
  • Current owners of higher-capacity magazines will have a year to sell them out of state.
  • Requires that therapists, psychologists, registered nurses and licensed social workers who believe a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally. They would be required to report such a threat to a mental health director, who would have to notify the state.
  • Increases sentences for gun crimes including the shooting of a First Responder, calling this the “Webster provision

New York Side 2

  • New York new law would be considered radical by many and not effect to improving public safety, as only five of the 447 killings by firearm in New York were committed with a rifle of any type in 2011. Source
  • The National Rifle Association (NRA) said it is “outraged at the draconian gun control bill” that was rushed through Albany and it said it would consider “all possible legal challenges in the near future.”

Obama Side 1—Obama set to go big on guns: President unveils his recommendations; 1) universal background check, 2) prohibition of high-capacity magazines, 3) an anti-trafficking law, and 4) a renewal of the assault weapons ban.

NRA Side 2—NRA calling President Obama “an elitist hypocrite” for dismissing the group’s suggestion to put armed guards in schools while his own daughters have Secret Service protection. Click for video. “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?”

Where each state stands on gun-control legislation

Reporters from USA TODAY and Gannett news operations nationwide reached out to governors and legislatures in each state to learn what gun-related proposals might be in the works. Click on this link to see state-by-state gun control legislative proposals

Gun Control NOT Top of Mind

Gun control takes a back seat to the economy, the deficit and taxes. A recent poll by Most Americans say the Newtown shooting has made them more supportive of gun control, but for most people, the issue falls well short of the “highest priority” for President Obama and the new Congress. Click here to see the most interesting poll of what Americans consider their priority. (No surprise, it’s the economy)

Gun Control and the Police

Survey results showed that 76 percent of street officers and 59 percent of managerial officers agreed that all trained, responsible adults should be able to obtain handgun carry permits. Source

Mental Health In America

Prior to Sandy Hook Public Safety Training News wrote a featured article on Mental Healthand its impact and some shocking statistics. For example

  • 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.

Mental Health and Gun Control

Click on the video below for a discussion on Mental Health and Gun Control. The video is contains dialogue from four nationally recognized perspectives on mental Health and Gun Control. Video Link

Finally

This is an excellent summarization of the position taken by both sides of the debate.

Should civilian possession of handguns and other non-hunting guns be banned or severely restricted? Source

NO!

  1. Criminals will always find a way to obtain their guns, leaving law-abiding citizens without any weapons to use in defense.
  2. Crimes are often prevented by the deterrent effect of the possibility of victim gun possession.
  3. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution protects the individual’s right to gun ownership.
  4. Women and weaker individuals may have no means of self-defense from rape or other crimes, especially in the inner city.
  5. Guns in the possession of citizens are an added protection against government tyranny.
  6. Police are often too overwhelmed to protect all citizens from violent crime.
  7. Banning guns will create another potentially large source of organized criminal revenue, as a black market for guns will surely develop.
  8. Banning guns will take away yet another piece of our liberty, which is one more step to socialism and totalitarianism.
  9. Reasonable gun control & education steps can be put in place, so an outright ban is unnecessary.

YES!

  1. Most violent crimes are committed with guns; thus, restricting gun ownership will likely reduce the number of such crimes.
  2. Lunatics, bullied school kids, disgruntled workers, and others can inflict mass casualties with guns that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
  3. A crime victim who has a gun may be in more danger than an unarmed person since the criminal may kill in perceived self-defense.
  4. Suicides and crimes of passion are higher with gun availability, as it’s much easier to act immediately on your impulses when a gun is available.
  5. The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution was targeted towards militia, e.g. the National Guard, rather than individuals.
  6. Crimes that may have been less harmful can be made more dangerous by adding a gun.
  7. Legalized gun ownership means guns have a greater chance of falling into the hands of kids, potentially resulting in some deadly accidents.
  8. Terrorism, school shootings, and other modern circumstances make guns more dangerous nowadays.

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.

Interact Business Group

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