Wednesday, May 16, 2018

HCRS trains law enforcement and crisis workers

Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, southeastern Vermont’s non-profit community mental-health agency, held a Team Two Training session April 27 at the Hartford Police Department for 25 first responders.

Team Two is a training program designed to help ensure that first responders to a mental health emergency are as prepared as possible. Police officers and mental health workers from emergency medical services, Vermont State Police, sheriff’s department and police departments in Windsor and Windham counties attended the training.

Team Two trains law enforcement officers and mental health emergency service workers to work collaboratively. When a mental health crisis arises, whether it is within a family home, at a high school, or in a public place, it is critical that first responders are trained in mental health issues, in mental health law, and in working together to resolve the crisis.

Team Two seeks to educate the first responder as well as build the relationships necessary to work together in crisis. The training also provides an overview of relevant mental health statutes and a refresher on mandatory law enforcement mental health training (ACT 80). The outcome is first responders who can provide the best possible response for an individual in crisis.

Four HCRS staff facilitated the training: Jennifer Chambers, area manager for Emergency Services, Angela Fraser, crisis screener, Christi White, crisis screener, and Vermont State Police Liaison Christine Bullard. Participants discussed situations where something worked well or could have been better. New ideas for better collaboration emerge. Previously unknown mental health resources are discovered. Everyone comes away learning something new about mental health crisis response.

Participants expressed gratitude for this training which brings first responders together in one room — sometimes for the first time — to learn about how each other responds to a mental health crisis.

These trainings were created in 2013 through a collaboration between the Vermont Department of Mental Health and the Department of Public Safety. Mary Moulton, then Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, was instrumental in creating these trainings which are currently provided by 38 law enforcement and mental health crisis workers across the state.

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