Safe Call Now

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What is the Addicted First Responder Thinking???

By Safe Call Now® President & Founder - Sean Riley

A dear friend of mine always says and he’s right, “We treat our cars better than we treat our first responders in addiction who are going to die”.   When the red light comes on in our vehicles we immediately take the vehicle into the mechanic and have it assessed, evaluated and fixed.  When we’re dealing with the alcoholic or addicted first responder, the red lights come on and as a profession we will enable them to protect our partners (blind loyalty), try to fix the problems ourselves (which only a professional can do) or cast them aside and throw them away as if it is someone else’s problem (the easy way out).   

The diseases of addiction and mental health when combined are two of the deadliest diseases known to mankind, yet they are the only two diseases that we allow the first responder who’s brain is incapable of making logical decisions dictate the terms of treatment.  Maybe for fear of not offending them, ending their career, who knows there are many other reasons usually associated with “The Thin Blue, Red, Green Line”.  Ultimately I have determined that the main cause is that “It’s always been done this way in the past”.  This is why Safe Call Now® exists, an organization that is willing to change the culture and thinking of an entire profession that experiences these diseases at twice the rate of the general population according to some studies and some say even higher.  Who knows?  I just know first responders are dying from it.

I want to speak with all of you about the alcoholic and addict mind and what the first responder may be thinking and doing when they are in this situation.  I am familiar with this because I was “That guy”.  The guy who would lie to your face, smile, tell you everything is alright, convince you that everyone else is crazy, function within the work environment, control the situations, create drama within others to direct the attention away from me and convince you that I was right.  Fortunately or unfortunately I do not think like you.  

Alcoholics and addicts usually have above average intelligence (I would like to think so) and are very creative because we’ve had to be to get what we want and manipulate situations to obtain our main objective… to get the alcohol or drugs at any costs.  I remember when my supervisors were impressed with my ability to “Think outside the box” to solve complex cases.  The reason for this is I felt I had to perform at such a high level that it would divert attention away from me and my drug use.  On the outside I was “That guy” people were coming to for advice on creative ways to solve cases which fed my ego all the while I was falling apart on the inside and in my private life.  It’s kind of ironic that my thinking was so delusional in nature, my brain was hijacked by the disease of addiction and there was no logic to my decision making and I was able to convince others that I was this brilliant “Guy” (or at least I thought so).  Yet somehow I was able to make it work for over 23 years and as I progressed through my disease I really felt I was superior to others.  I’m not proud of any of this and it is actually very embarrassing when I look back upon it all.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Substance Abuse & the First Responder Population

Safe Call Now®'s National Report on Substance Abuse and the First Responder Population
 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.
To read Safe Call Now®'s entire national report  Click here

Saturday, September 26, 2015

#1stresponders... How to Become a Personal Leader

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Did you know that you can lead from wherever you are? If you are a ranked leader or a personal leader, you have the power to influence those around you.
If you are working on improving your leadership capabilities, here are 17 qualities that leaders need to have:
1)      Think "we" instead of "me." Your greatest joy and passion comes from creating team-based wins. 
2)      Have great self-awareness and understand that moods, attitudes, and emotions are contagious. 
3)      Understand that being a leader is a service job, the role of a servant - service to team, family, social causes, and friendships. 
4)      Keep it about others, not you. 
5)      Grow others and focus on personal development. Make it possible for others to use their abilities and shine. 
6)      Don't just focus on being busy... get clear about true accomplishments - think big!
7)      Build an inner-circle of like-minded, optimistic solution finders. 
8)      Take responsibility for your own weaknesses and work to improve them. 
9)      Keep whatever team you lead moving.
10)   Never underestimate the power of each day to make a huge impact. 
11)   Renew your daily mission to influence others, not impress them. 
12)   Spark the ambitions of others by how you live with purpose and excellence. 
13)   Make choices, minute by minute that make you better in your professional and personal life. 
14)   Treat people as equals not subordinates. 
15)   Have dynamic "thinking time" each week that turns challenges into opportunities.
16)   Commit to body, soul, and spirit, not just business. 
17)   Live in gratitude, compassion, and kindness to others. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

HOPE... The #1stresponders Edge

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Prime Minister Winston Churchill's leadership is legendary. He led England during the dark days of conflict with the Nazis. He knew everything rose and fell on hope, attitude and leadership. 
As the Nazis swept like a tsunami across Europe and mercilessly bombed England, the task of defeating Hitler grew larger than David's battle with Goliath. It seemed hopeless... impossible. Yet, despite the worst of Las Vegas odds, the British prevailed. 
How did this small nation overcome defeat? 
When Winston Churchill was asked what England's greatest weapon was, he responded with one word. Hope. Hope is the winner’s edge, the winner’s greatest asset and weapon to battle setbacks and losses. 
Here are 8 powerful ways hope gives you the winner’s edge:
1.     Hope pivots a setback into a learning lesson.
2.     Hope is a solution finder.
3.     Hope regards tough circumstances as opportunities to begin again.
4.     Hope sees blessings beyond the valleys of life.
5.     Hope looks for new open doors. 
6.     Hope draws strength from inner resolve. 
7.     Hope finds a way... a new path.
8.     Hope views failure as a friend, coach, and mentor.
If you want to find your winner’s edge and new motivation, if you want to face your loses and keep moving to a better tomorrow, embrace hope!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#1stresponders becoming the "Accidental Addict"

By Dr. Maryann Rosenthal, Ph D - Executive Director at Recovery Ways

Today, millions of Americans suffer with all kinds of physical concerns that cause them serious pain. They are in need of pain management to help them function and are often prescribed appropriate medications to help them cope and manage their condition. However, because these drugs are so powerful and their need so great, bodies can build up a tolerance for the medications.  They then need more of the drug to obtain the same effect. Eventually they can become overly dependent on these drugs, which can have a very negative effect on their quality of their life.

Prescription drug abuse is the Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem and the “Accidental Addict” can happen to all ages and in all lifestyles especially first responders.  According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009, more than 5 million Americans misused prescription painkillers in a one-month period. “Daily, 50 people in our nation die from unintentional prescription opioid overdoses and daily, 20 times that number are admitted to hospital emergency departments for opioid overdoses,” said John Eadie, director of the Prescription Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University. As outrageous as that sounds, a huge majority – more than 70% of those prescriptions were from friends and relatives.

There are many reasons for the rapid and growing abuse of prescription drugs. One is how easily accessible the drugs are from doctors, family and friends.  The other is the diminished perception of risk while taking these legal drugs.  After all, many times these drugs are prescribed for real pain and unfortunately, patients are not always good consumers and do not question their doctors when addictive medications are prescribed.  Doctors tell patients to “get ahead of the pain – if you wait, it will take longer to manage your pain.”  So your brain sends a signal that the pain is coming and you need to be prepared.  Better take another pill. And the cycle of abuse begins. These factors all add to the epidemic and deadly problem of prescription drug abuse in our Nation today. 

Many medications are potent but they serve a purpose for relieving pain and suffering.  Treating a person with chronic pain is especially challenging.  The question I always ask myself when a chronic pain patient is coming into treatment is, “how can I help my patient manage their pain and still have a quality of life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Between 2009 and 2011, line-of-duty officer killings in the US rose a staggering 42%, with overall officer deaths increasing over 60%. Not only were more officers being murdered, more and more were being targeted, ambushed, and slain in numbers. Although 2012/2013 saw a net decline, the numbers are again sharply rising in 2014, with gun related officer killings up over 60%.

There are countless personal stories going untold beneath these numbers, and these fallen heroes deserve a voice, as do their families, loved ones and partners who are struggling to pick up the pieces these tragedies leave behind.

For the past year and a half, a production crew comprised of both film industry and public safety professionals has been traveling to police agencies across the country, large and small, urban and rural, candidly interviewing command staff, line officers, city officials and the public in areas that have lost officers. Along the way, they have captured intimate accounts of heroism and loss. Through the words of those who have lived beside these tragedies, these stories will be told. 

What makes this project unique is that it is being funded by contributions from the national law enforcement community, along with our extended family and public supporters. Without your continuing support, this film simply could not be made.   

Not only will this film serve as a snapshot of history, but its raw honesty and intimately candid perspective will serve as a tribute to all those who have sacrificed everything so that we may enjoy the safety and freedoms we all take for granted.