Safe Call Now

Friday, July 31, 2015

#1stresponders... Are You Able to Lead Yourself???

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Some of my favorite conversations at conferences or workshop trainings for first responders is when someone asks me... "How do I become a leader?" OR "I don't have anyone to lead yet, how can I start?" My response is: "You are a leader! Start by leading yourself." 

You have to get to a place where you would actually follow yourself before you ask anyone else to follow you. I've been around dozens of positioned leaders who aren't very effective because they have not mastered the art of self-leadership. 

The key to leading yourself well is to learn self-leadership. 
If you want to gain trust and credibility from others, begin by focusing on the following principles...

Principle #1: 20/20/20

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Secondary PTSD... What is it???

By Robert Rabe

Every critical incident has similarities, and differences.  In addition, every law enforcement officer's reaction to an incident is individual as well.  Some officers go through the process of integrating the experience into their psyche without difficulty.  Usually this is with the help of others (peer group counseling, debriefings).  It is difficult to an effectively process an incident alone.  The family is one of the primary contacts for processing stressful incidents. But what can the family possibly do to help the officer?  

The family can make sure that nothing is overlooked, especially, if medication is needed.  But sometimes medication or even intervention isn't enough.  If the officer has become sullen and melancholy, they are a different person than before the critical incident and onset of PTSD.  At this point, the family becomes the secondary victim, and loyalty is tested.  The spouse and the children can suffer from secondary PTSD, which is not widely recognized or discussed in the mainstream media.  Secondary PTSD is based on the concept, that those who care for or interact with the primary individual who suffers from PTSD, can also become traumatized.

Secondary PTSD results from having knowledge of a critical incident experienced by another individual and the stress from helping.  Secondary PTSD is nearly identical to PTSD except the exposure to the critical incident is indirect. Today, many law enforcement personnel and their families suffer from PTSD and the battle that rages within. But the good news is that PTSD and Secondary PTSD are treatable.  The next step is helping families to learn the characteristics of Secondary PTSD and where to look for help.  

Characteristics of Secondary PTSD Checklist:
(Dr. Oscar Ramirez)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#1stresponders... Are You Building Your Inner Circle???

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Just over a decade ago I realized my success and sustainability would depend on the people closest to me. That's when I started to invest in quality individuals that would add value to my life. I also decided I would give my best to them.
These individuals are professionals and friends. They are people who are "summiting,” climbing in the game of life. No one in my inner circle has a victim mindset, they are all dynamic individuals who challenge me with their commitment to do and be their best.
"Iron sharpens iron," and my inner circle, next to my family, is the single greatest blessing in my life. They have also changed over the years, people have come and gone. Three of my current six have remained constant. Now in my 50s, I value my inner circle even more than ever before.
  1. We lead together.
  2. We dream together.
  3. We laugh together.
  4. We cry together.
  5. We make a difference together.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Station House Retreat Appoints Mark Lamplugh

Mark Lamplugh

Station House has been helping first-responders heal and recover through their innovative treatment, assisting public safety workers in returning to their lives and continuing to help others. The Station House rehabilitation center is excited to announce the recent addition of Mark Lamplugh, as Senior Vice President of Business Development, to help expand the program.

Mark brings with him an impressive background as a fourth generation firefighter, and former Captain of the Lower Chichester Fire Company in Pennsylvania. His first-hand experience as a first-responder has attributed to his national recognition in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

“I’m excited that Mark is joining our team to create awareness for this serious problem,” said Admissions Director Jeffrey Bowers. “Studies have shown over 20% of first responders suffer from alcoholism and PTSD.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Addressing Substance Abuse in Public Safety

Safe Call Now® National White Paper

The most potentially dangerous and seldom mentioned issue facing public safety personnel today is the existence of substance abuse and addiction among its ranks.  With reported abuse rates over twice the national average for the general population, many of those entrusted to protect and serve the communities of America are struggling to hold their own lives together.  For those public safety employees fighting the demons of substance abuse and addiction, they are also challenged by working within a professional culture that has historically discouraged them from asking for help.  In fact, many public safety professionals who divulge their struggles to employers and seek assistance are given the option to quit their job or be let go.  The result, they keep their substance abuse and addiction a secret.  This dysfunctional way of doing business produces shattered lives for those personally impacted by the substance abuse and addiction, as well as a potentially perilous situation for the general public.

Safe Call Now®, a non-profit organization, offers nationwide, comprehensive crisis referral services for all public safety employees and their family members.  Established and managed by public safety officials, Safe Call Now® recognizes firsthand the stressors first responders encounter and offers a broad array of training, as well as a confidential, 24/7 crisis hotline staffed by current and former public safety employees. Additionally, Safe Call Now® is dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding substance abuse and is committed to creating programs designed to save the careers and lives of those impacted by it. While Safe Call Now® is staffed to handle a wide array of crises, this document focuses on how the organization addresses substance abuse and addiction in the public safety population.

Friday, July 24, 2015

#1stresponders... How Many Sundays Do You Have Left???

By Safe Call Now® President & Founder - Sean Riley

As I crisscross the country over the next seven weeks I have to ask myself, "How many Sundays do I have left"?  Why do I ask you this?  Because what I wanted to talk about are the demands on all of our time when dealing with the daily grind.  As we head into the dog days of 2015 the demands on our time with family vacations, employment, completing all of those tasks that we put off and the personal goals we promised ourselves we would accomplish will only increase.  Last night I had the opportunity to watch a one man Broadway play entitled “700 Sundays” by Billy Crystal.  In it he speaks about his life and how he only got to spend 700 Sundays with his father who died when he was age fifteen. He spoke about his joys, his pains, his heartbreaks, his regrets and his happiness.  What got me thinking is when he spoke about the “cards” we are all dealt with in life. 

As I reflect back on 23 years of addiction I calculated out that I threw away 1,196 Sundays. These are the cards that were dealt to me or I dealt to myself.  My hand of cards included guilt, shame, embarrassment, a criminal act, selfishness, self-sabotage and destruction just to name a few.  Once I was provided with the opportunity of treatment (fortunately or unfortunately by the federal government) I was able to “fold” my cards and get a new hand.  One that now includes happiness, sadness, healthy relationships, pain, sadness, family and many others. I have the cards of “Life” today.  I figure if I live to be a 100 I have 2,496 Sundays left and I intend to make the most of them!  I intend to live life on life’s terms and see where that tiger takes me. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Dangers of PTSD...

By Angela Lambert

When human beings experience a great trauma, the effects can be long-lasting and debilitating. Although many people learn to cope with horrible events that they have witnessed or been a part of, there are others who have much difficulty getting past the trauma. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a recognized anxiety disorder in which individuals relive again and again the trauma that they have experienced.

History of PTSD

It was not until about 1980 that psychologists and psychiatrists came up with the name posttraumatic stress disorder to describe the particular condition of anxiety that they saw in patients who had endured a horrific event. However, that does not mean PTSD was unknown before then. For as long as human beings have recorded what happens to soldiers after battle, there have been written descriptions of symptoms that are now classified as belonging to PTSD. Ancient and medieval descriptions of soldiers in battle, for example, often describe the fighters as experiencing great fear long after wars had subsided, as well as insomnia and anxiousness among soldiers.

Symptoms of PTSD

It takes a professional to diagnose PTSD, but there are several symptoms that psychologists and psychiatrists look for. These symptoms may include:
  • Reliving the traumatic event through nightmares, physical reactions to things that remind the individual of the trauma, flashbacks, etc.
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hyper-arousal-the condition of being always vigilant and on guard against danger
  • Feelings of detachment from others and avoidance of people, places, and activities that remind the individual of the trauma
  • Difficulty with long-term planning
To be diagnosed as having PTSD, one must have been exposed to a traumatic event, experience many of the aforementioned symptoms for at least one month, and suffer debilitating effects from the anxiety in one’s career, personal life, and other key areas of healthy functioning.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Developing Personal Growth for #1stresponders

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

"Personal growth is the greatest separator of those first responders who succeed long-term from those who do not."
One thing I've noticed about leaders in the top 10% in their fields of medicine, business, sales, technology, and education is that they are 100% committed to personal growth. They are "all in" and have "skin in the game."  Do first responders?
As time goes by, the gap that separates those who grow intentionally and those who don't widens. The personal leaders who lack investment in their growth begin to stagnate and witness a decline. Leaders committed to personal growth begin to accelerate and see excess that grows by multiplication. If a leader thinks they are too busy to grow, they will witness a lack of achieving their goals.
Warren Bennis put it this way, "it is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguish leaders from followers." So the game changing lesson is simple and powerful: if you want to lead the field and super charge your career, stop waiting… and start growing. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What is Addiction vs. Dependence?

By Great Oaks Recovery Center

When I was faced with being labeled an “addict” I felt defeated. To me, being an addict meant that I’d lost control and needed drugs to function. It also meant that I would be limited to two possible outcomes: quitting for good or going to an early grave. As I tried desperately to find another way to explain my chronic condition, I remembered hearing the term “dependence” and somehow it had a nicer ring to it.

Being physically dependent made my problem sound more manageable than being dubbed a drug addict. But when I was asked to differentiate between the two I was stumped. What is addiction versus dependence?

Addiction versus Dependence: Let’s Define Dependence First

The word dependence is typically used when referring to a reliance on something. That something can be any number of things, such as a person, a system, an object or a substance. Dependence can be psychological and/ or physical. In this discussion on addiction versus dependence, it is physical dependence that is being referenced.

In this context, physical dependence means that the body is reliant on a substance to function normally and if the substance is not ingested, the body will react by exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dispatchers... You are the First, #1stresponder

By Jan Myers

A Couple of Questions:  Why is the phrase, ‘I’m just a dispatcher” still used?  When will dispatchers finally accept that they are first responders? 

Over 15 years ago I was tasked to write an article; an extremely unfamiliar and uncomfortable task required to complete a year long process of becoming a master instructor for California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).  This was not a task I took lightly for two reasons:  Being published scared the living crap out of me, and, I was JUST a dispatcher…How could someone like me write an article?

Fast forward to 2015.  President & Founder Sean Riley from Safe Call Now® asked me to write a segment for his blog, specifically for dispatchers.  I pondered on this for a bit.  I’m no longer fearful of writing, thanks to the 3 plus years on non-stop writing required of a mental health counseling graduate degree program.  I no longer work a radio or telephone system, thanks to a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in 2001 – not that I could not continue the work, I chose not to.   

On the other hand, I’ve been blessed to continue to work with 9-1-1 dispatchers, emergency call takers, telecommunicators, etc., by way of teaching at academies in California and Oregon, and participating with pro-dispatch programs such as Safe Call Now® and the 9-1-1 Wellness Foundation.  Reflecting on these experiences, I continued to ponder … What concerns have dispatchers continued to express in academies and or advanced courses over the years?  What are they fearful of?  Do they still feel unappreciated? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

First Responders: Fat or Fit... Is Not a Choice!!!

By Sgt. Mark St. Hilaire

Recently, a citizen’s police academy for pre-teenage kids was hosted by a law enforcement agency close by.  Part of the session was a physical exercise program to start the day led by a police officer.  Another officer made an observation that more than half the kids participating could not do basic calisthenics, one or two proper push-ups or keep up with the group in a jog.  The same officer noted that his child (who was in this program) is very athletic and enjoys athletic activities especially running. He told me that in school, his child is penalized in gym class for being athletically fit. 

I must have displayed a "WHAT?" look on my face as he explained to me further that in the middle school, they place heart monitors on the students to gauge their activity in class.  His child is so fit, she is looked down upon by the teachers who may be under the impression that she is not doing anything when in fact the child has great fitness stamina and heart rate. 

In case you missed this story released recently by the group, Mission: Readiness (Military Leaders for Kids) nearly 1 in 3 young adults are too fat for the military according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1/3 of American kids are considered obese or overweight.
What is this statistical news telling us of our future first responder applicants?

Did you know that 34.9% (78.6 million) Americans over age 20 are obese? The Journal of American Medical (JAMA) indicates that obese is defined as 30% BMI (fat on the body).
We have seen reports of our active and reserve military personnel dealing with the weight issues and the problems such as stress compound injuries to their bodies in the combat zones.  Many are being dismissed due to their inability to maintain fitness during their tours of duty.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Call to Action for #1stresponders...

By Safe Call Now® Vice President - Ron Jones

Calling all first responders. We hear it all the time; take care of yourself, be safe, stay alert. Generally speaking we are reactive in our professions. Responding to calls for service, disasters, critical incidents, active shooter, the list is endless. But who takes care of us; the ones on the front lines, those who are retired, the ones who have life altering disabilities, and even worse, the forgotten? We should look after each other, don’t wait on the department, or the municipal, county, state, or federal government. You will certainly be disappointed if you do. So you may ask, what then?   

Safe Call Now® always has room for motivated volunteers who have a background in the public safety arena and a passion for helping. In all of our professions we are expected to serve and we should but who better to look after a brother or sister than someone who has been there, who gets it, who has the same shared life experience. At Safe Call Now® that is exactly what you will find. We exist to help you and your family, BUT, we can’t do it alone. 

What does it cost to be a part of this life saving organization, what are we asking you to donate; yourself, your time, your ability to calm others and offer assistance when needed as only another peer can do. We provide the training, we expect nothing monetarily in return, we need you! 

As one of our peer advocates recently said, “I realized I wanted to give back to the men and women that are still out there: cops, firemen, corrections officers, and our dispatchers… I know that going forward I may get a call from anywhere in the country, any agency, and at any time of the day or night. The call may be from a first responder that just wants to talk a bit, or maybe from someone that is having a hard time with substance abuse…There is always the chance that you will get the call from a first responder that feels this is his or her last call, the call that if you can’t convince them that their life is worth living well then that may very well be their last call…” From Eddie, a retired first responder.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dancing with the Devil... The Undercover Officer

Florida Narcotics Officers Association

As I prepare to speak at the Florida Narcotics Officers Association today here in Florida, I have to remind myself how challenging their job really is and ask myself…  Do we set themselves up for failure???

Over the last six years I've had the honor to have an open invitation to speak at The International Association of Undercover Officers conferences nationwide.  Charlie Fuller (my "Bo") has been a mentor to me and adviser on how to help the undercover officers when life goes bad for them and they require treatment.  Imagine a job where you get paid to drink, lie, drive cool cars and basically do whatever you want?  Not a bad gig... until you come home to the real world and deal with life.
One thing I've learned while training undercover officers and placing them into treatment that to do well in the profession, you sometimes become the "lie".  Think about it?  In order to achieve the objective in whatever undercover role you adopt, you become an actor.  To stay alive you become adept at becoming a great role player.  If you get caught in a lie when undercover there is the potential that you may lose your life so you become an even better liar than those out there lying to you.  Getting confusing, yes it can be.  The healthy boundaries of life can start getting blurred and obliterated for the undercover.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#1stresponders... Is This Your Best Season???

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Earl Hightower is one of the most recognized interventionists in the country today. For over 30 years, Earl has worked on the front lines of addiction recovery. The focus of his work has been to develop successful systems and strategies to support people in their goal of achieving a lasting connection to recovery and life.

I recently had the privilege of meeting Earl for dinner along with executives from Foundations Recovery Network in Malibu California. His story is remarkable and has led him on an inspiring mission. Our dinner discussion centered on “seasons” of life, Earl said, "Without a doubt Steve, I want the next season to be my most successful, and most significant."

I couldn't agree more. Too many people today are shying away from the pursuit of success. They believe that there is something wrong with aiming to be very successful. I’ve actually heard people suggest that if you strive for success, you must not be concerned with making a difference and being significant in life.

Success vs. Significance -

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#1stresponders... Is Your Administration Killing You???

By Safe Call Now®

There is one common theme that is presented to me over and over as I travel around the country for Safe Call Now®    I can handle everything on the streets but my “Administration” is killing me… literally.”  If you’re an administrator reading this, please take note, your own are reporting that you are taking their lives.  Did you know by the year 2020 one of the top workplace disabilities will be anxiety and depression???  Where this is coming from, the studies indicate is from you…  

The number one concern from the “boots” on the ground is that words do not match actions which leads to a double standard.  This is an unhealthy balance in boundaries and ego states, I’ll go into this later.

In an informal survey first responders reported to me that the phrases they most commonly hear from administrators such as, “breadth and depth, threshold, projections for the future, committed towards growth and advancement, committed to ensuring, internal and external initiatives, as we traverse into the future, and the administration engages in periodic discussion, along with many others…  This circular talk demonstrates to them that the administrator can’t or won’t answer the question or has no idea what they’re talking about.  

 For the “boots”, everything you said before these terms is now hollow and the rest after these terms means nothing and they stopped listening.  I once knew a chief that was let go over the term breadth and depth that was used over and over.  As William Shakespeare presents in Macbeth… “A tale told by an idiot… full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Talk No #1stresponder Wants to Have...

Safe Call Now®

The information on this blog post from Intervention911 pertains to a conversation that no one wants to have.

When someone you love is struggling with a behavioral or mental health disorder that requires residential care, you’re well aware that one difficult conversation is a price worth paying.

The good news is that with proper preparation, the talk may go much more smoothly than you anticipate – and the result may change (or save) your loved one’s life.
That said, here a few important issues to consider when preparing to talk to your loved one about getting treatment.


DO be empathetic and compassionate
Never lose sight of the fact that your loved one is in pain – not as a result of a lack of willpower or a failure of character, but because he or she has a very real disease. Because of this disease, your loved one has literally lost control of his or her behavior, and cannot make the types of healthy decisions that seem so obvious to you.

You wouldn’t blame someone for getting cancer or diabetes – so please don’t ever accuse your loved one of “causing” his or her addiction, eating disorder, mood disorder, or chronic pain.

DON’T accept (or make) excuses
Understanding that the disease itself is beyond your loved one’s control doesn’t mean excusing (or making excuses for) his or her behaviors. You might think you’re trying to help, but when you look the other way, cover up damage, or otherwise try to minimize the impact of the behaviors in question, you allow the problem to take a stronger hold on your loved one and prevent him or her from getting help.