|By Sgt. Mark St. Hilaire|
As a professional reading this article no matter who you are and at what rank you are in your agency, ask yourself: What is our plan to assist a brother or sister in crisis?
Your agency doesn’t have one? It is now time for you to have that courageous conversation with your union leaders along with your agency leaders to develop the plan. There are many precious lives at stake.
Here are the important points I need to share with everyone, especially first responder agency leaders and their union leaders:
YOU NEED TO HAVE A PLAN TO INTERVENE IF THIS HAPPENS TO A FIRST RESPONDER, ESPECIALLY ONE OF YOURS.
Everyone needs to understand the plan and Pre-incident training is the key for a successful response. Practice and more practice especially for the: What if?
1 COMMUNICATION: Very important as this is no time for egos or personality conflicts. Advise all responders what is happening, all vital information and expect the unexpected. A law enforcement agency supervisor in dispatch along with a supervisor on scene MUST be focused on the task at hand on any suicidal action call. If you are served by a CISM team focusing on first responders, call them immediately to activate this team to be ready to assist our friend in need and our co-workers who will have their own anxieties to deal with during and following the incident. Most peer teams have trusted mental health professionals who work with first responders daily and know our culture.
2 RESPONSE: First responders don’t know what the suicide plan, method of action or know if a weapon or dangerous substance or item is being used. EMS staged near the scene is important along with an assessment of the situation. Can a police patrol team make contact with our friend or has it escalated to bring in a higher trained special response team. This is why you need the plan: who are our resources if needed and practice, practice and more practice.