Safe Call Now

Friday, January 29, 2016

Does Medication Impact the #1stresponder???

By Safe Call Now® President & Founder - Sean Riley

Here’s something I see too often with #1stresponders that call the Safe Call Now® crisis line.  Officers being over prescribed medication or prescribed medication that may not be necessary for what they’re currently dealing with.  

Let me give you an example; I generally see when a #1stresponder experiences a traumatic event or multiple events they may afterwards feel depressed, anxious and unable to sleep.  They’re searching for answers to these problems and visit their family doctor.  Too often they report that they are prescribed anti-depressants, sleep aids and benzodiazepines (something like Xanax) to deal with these issues.  I always say when you get this combination of three drugs going, at some point we at Safe Call Now® will be dealing with you.

Are we medicating normal feelings to an abnormal situation?  In most cases I believe so.  What gives me the ability or expertise to qualify this statement?  Through 23 years of addiction I was often prescribed these medications and just about everything else known to mankind and experienced their side effects and became dependent on some.  What do I see as the potential problem?  The health care industry is a complicated business and as I view it driven by the almighty dollar.  When I went to the doctor it seemed that I spent less time with them as their volume of seeing patients must increase to sometimes just break even when dealing with insurance companies.  Not their fault it’s just the way the system is set up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Husband... The Police Officer

By Melissa Littles - The Police Wife Life

"I'm fine"
"It's all good"
"I'll get a Red Bull or some coffee, I'm good"
"It's just four extra hours, we need the money"
"We can open presents on my lunch break, it's holiday pay"

Overtime, grant shifts, off duty security..... It’s the way many officers pay their mortgages and buy groceries.  For those who literally find a way to live with extra jobs, it is mind blowing that there are so many departments that don't allow officers to work off duty security.  Those are the officers with completely separate jobs on the side.  They have lawn services, pest control services, construction jobs....whatever it takes to pay the bills.  We are no different.

We went from a two income household to one. Within a year we went from doing pretty great after 15 years in with two incomes to struggling to avoid foreclosure on our newly built home after a diagnosis of autism, dysphagia, apraxia and seizures in our son.  Medical bills piled up, I couldn't keep my job because of all the therapy and specialist appointments... co-pays after insurance jumped quickly to over $600.00 a month... we lost over $4,000 a month in income with me staying home. It didn't take long for it to hit us like a brick.

So, he does what he does.  My husband, the police officer, heads off to his normal 40 hours per week, which never remains just 40 hours.... he picks up every DUI and seat belt enforcement grant shift he can, every estate sale, school dance, football game, pharmacy security, church security, funeral name it.... if he can work it, he will sign up for it.  Because we need the money and he will do whatever it takes to provide for his family. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Emotional Intelligence & The #1stresponder

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

"Great leaders inspire us. They ignite the best version of ourselves. Most importantly, they motivate us to accomplish our best work and they make us feel important. 
 A leader who is capable of that inspiration and motivation has a high degree of Emotional Intelligence. Here are the basic competencies:
1.       Emotional Self-awareness - Leaders with high self-awareness are attuned to their inner signals, recognizing how their feelings and moods affect them and those they interact with daily. 
2.       Self-confidence - Self-confident leaders take on challenging assignments. They possess a sense of presence, poise, and self-assurance. 
3.       Emotional Self-management - Leaders with emotional self-control find ways to manage their challenging emotions and impulses. Staying calm and clear-headed is a hallmark of a great leader. 
4.       Transparency - Leaders who are transparent communicate their values and live them. They are open about their feelings, beliefs, and choices. They are leaders who can admit fault, apologize... and move forward. 
5.       Optimism - A leader with optimism can quickly shift from a problem and convert it in to a challenge to be solved. They see life through the lens of possibility and positivity. They believe the future can and will be brighter. 
6.       Developing Others - Leaders who are adept at cultivating abilities show a genuine interest in the success of others. They ask about their goals, strengths, what they enjoy. These leaders provide constructive feedback and lift the vision of those around them to see the next level of what's possible. 
Working with first responders, I find the #1 enemy to personal leadership effectiveness is their ability to manage their emotions. This is a challenge because of the stress hormone cortisol. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Where Does the Child of a #1stresponder Get Help???

New Beginnings - Where Our Children Get Help

Sometimes we focus so much on providing the first responder when in crisis that all of us forget about the children of the first responders.  Today Safe Call Now® is honored to announce our partnership with New Beginnings Adolescent Recovery Center that has built a nationwide referral network for our children.  We only bring you the “gold standard” and with New Beginnings that’s what your children are getting!!!  Read more about our new partners.

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals and the premier global organization of addiction professionals, has recognized New Beginnings Adolescent Recovery Center located in Opelousas, Louisiana, as its 2015 Organizational Achievement Award winner for its high level of care, support and commitment to the addiction professionals on its staff and throughout the substance abuse treatment industry in America. Johnny Patout, CEO of New Beginnings, commented, “This is a great honor for our entire organization, our treatment and support staff, and mostly for the many teenagers and their families whom we are able to help break away from their substance abuse.” Under his leadership, New Beginnings has transformed from a struggling program in 2011 to one of the leading award-winning treatment centers in the country today.

NAADAC, in announcing New Beginnings as its 2015 award winner, stated that through the recruitment of qualified, Master’s-level therapists, nurses and physicians who are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care possible for their patients, New Beginnings has become a center of excellence for struggling teenagers from across the country. They added that New Beginnings’ highly experienced leadership team, many of whom are in recovery themselves, have offered their experience, training, knowledge and skills in treating substance abuse. In doing so, they have provided real hope for adolescents and their families.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#1stresponders and Overloaded Thinking...

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

I've learned a valuable lesson. My mind gives back to me exactly what I put into it. The greatest enemy to my best thoughts is to dilute it with information overload. 

I like to give myself ample space to reflect. This time is essential for me to assess where I am with my life and where I'd like it to go.  

“The best #1stresponders reserve time for quality thinking.”
The following are a series of questions I like to ask myself during my thinking time each week: 
  • What is working well?
  • What is not working well?
  • What is the best use of my time this week? 
  • What can I delegate or eliminate? 
  • What am I putting off that I need to work on?
  • Who do I need to invest in that will help multiply my impact and influence?
  • Who do I need to stay in touch with today?
Remember, a few minutes of quality "thinking time" is often more valuable than an hour of surface level conversation or unplanned work. 

When you make thinking time for yourself this week, what questions will you ask yourself?

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Operator... What You Don't Know

By Matt McClelland
This short film is dedicated to the men and women who sit behind the microphone everyday.  The horror they have to deal with many of us have no idea.  Remember you never need suffer in silence, Safe Call Now® is here for you 24/7-Nationwide.  We answer the phones for you when you need help.  206-459-3020.

Matt made this short film about the day in the life of a 911 dispatcher.  "I know many people - both friends and family who are currently working or have worked as law enforcement and first responders.  I'd like to share this film with you as I believe this film accurately depicts the struggles you all have to overcome on a daily basis."

WARNING:  Possible triggers for those of you suffering from PTSD



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cops... Which One are You???

Warriors or Guardians... By Dave Smith for Police Magazine
Over the years I have tried to keep this column from being in any way political, and focus on issues that help the reader stay healthy, strong, and safe. The problem is that few things having anything to do with law enforcement today are NOT political. Whether the issue is use of force, crime statistics, or budgets, one can be accused of damn near anything, in a political sense, just by commenting on the problem.

Social justice warriors clamor for "procedural justice" wherein the officer is supposed to take into account the social injustices of the past when enforcing the laws of today. The fact that one racial or ethnic group is over-representing in a crime statistic becomes "de facto" proof that the system is rigged against that group; and to attempt to argue any other sociological cause is to have malice in your heart. The same problems I examined in Sociology class back in the early 1970s still exist in spite of society's "surefire" remedies that were applied back then. Even worse, rather than re-examine those social remedies and their failures, we are simply going to continue them and act as if they're only now being initiated.

One of the big mistakes of the past is the fantasy that law enforcement causes criminality and that if only we can change the police we can stop poverty, crime, gangs, etc. Recently, a Presidential Committee was formed to "fix" law enforcement following the support among the powers that be for the "hands up, don't shoot" myth. The result was a hodgepodge of societal complaints about the law enforcement community, with the impressive title of "21st Century Policing."

 If you haven't read it you better Google that immediately and get reading because everything you believe about law enforcement and its relationship with the community is about to affected. The first recommendation in this self-referential report is that the culture of policing needs to change. We need to become "guardians instead of warriors" because we have been teaching cops to be soldiers instead of protectors.

Click here to read entire article

Friday, January 15, 2016

#1stresponders... What Do We Teach Our Children???

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

There are two extreme ways some people seem to view life. One says, “Life is long, painful, and we all die in the end.” Wow, that’s a downer. Are you sure you want to keep reading? Well, how’s this? “Life is a sweet, melodious journey filled with love and joy.” Much better. But what about the truths in between? What about the balance of dark and light? And more importantly, how do you communicate that to a child? How do we ensure they look at life as a joy and a gift, in spite of the moments when it feels like a chore? How do we let them know they are valuable and their life will be what they make it, not what someone else says it is?

It’s not easy. I know, because somewhere along the line, I didn’t get the message. My failure to see the glass as half-full brought me to my knees. Actually, it was more like I was in sand up to my neck. Laxatives became my best friend, and they are related to bulimia. Bulimia was more than happy to bring in her friend depression, and then completed the party with her close relative: suicide attempts.

Thankfully, hospitalization jumped in and helped me out. She had a little help from the small voice in my head that managed to filter through all the poisonous noise and guide me back to health. This whole process started when I was 11 years old and ended with three suicide attempts at age 25.

In reality, it hasn’t really “ended.” Each day is a new silent struggle, but I manage to get through it by telling myself the things I wish someone had told me when I was young and knowing that while it’s true life will have its end, somewhere in between there will be happiness.

What are those things I wish someone had told me? Well, it’s not just saying something; it’s living and emulating behaviors. Things that will transform a child into a compassionate, self-aware adult. In the ever-changing game of life, there is not one magic formula to prevent a person from spiraling into depression, succumbing to the lies of a bully, or continuing a cycle of violence. We never know what action or affirmation might pull someone from the rubble—so we’ve got to offer as many as we can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fear in Policing...

By Safe Call Now® Board of Directors Member - Randy Sutton

I’m a cop with a confession to make. It’s not easy to do; it’s something that I’m hesitant, even ashamed, to admit. But I don’t think I’m alone in my admission; I believe that I share this secret with countless men and women who also wear a badge on their chest. It’s a confession of fear.

Fear? Yes, a demoralizing fear that threatens to cripple my effectiveness as a cop. But not the kind of fear you might expect.

I have worn a badge for more than 25 years. I’ve walked the streets in uniform, patrolled the city in a black & white during every kind of political and social climate imaginable. I’ve done the equivalent of combat duty during citywide unrest, during urban riots when we, the police, were grossly outnumbered and under-equipped and were called “pigs” by the very people we sought to protect from harm. In those days, as a young rookie, I admit that I was afraid. But I was a cop so I learned, like we all did, to stand my ground and to stand tall because, no matter what, that uniform that I was wearing stood for Justice and Integrity. I never lost sight of that; it was the antidote to fear. I learned that the flood of adrenaline could be used for more than fight or flight – it could be used to take charge. And I learned, I’m proud to say, to temper all that I did with compassion. So that kind of fear, fear of being outnumbered and disdained, faded with the acceptance of the role and responsibility of a police officer. No, this is not the fear that I mean.

Then is it mortal danger I’m afraid of? The ever-present specter of death or serious injury? I, like most cops with a lot of years in, have accepted the physical danger inherent in the street cop territory – the shots-fired, man-with-a-gun, domestic-gone-haywire calls – any of those escalating situations that can suddenly explode in violence, threatening my life and the lives of those around me. No, that kind of fear no longer leaves an acrid taste in my mouth; experience and training has honed my fear into something more like concentrated energy. That is the kind of fear that I can live with and even embrace. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Meet the People Who Save Lives at Safe Call Now®

Safe Call Now® Peer Advocate Eddie Patterson (Ret.) NYPD

I grew up in Queens, New York, one of the five boroughs of NYC. My dad was a WWII vet that told me to take every civil service exam that was offered. After starting college I thought of joining the service which I was about to do when I got a call from the NYC Police Dept. I was sworn into the department in January 1982.  

 As I said I grew up right outside of the city so of course my first command was in uptown Manhattan, and to be honest I really wasn’t prepared for what I would see as a young twenty-something kid, and this is why I have so much respect for our veterans.  I learned fast that I would see people shot, stabbed, a thirteen year old girl jump to her death and of course September 11th.  During these many years I also lost close friends, very close friends to suicide. One other important fact I left out was that during these years I would drink to forget what I witnessed. 

Jump a head years later and 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 began to volunteer at a local organization for NYPD cops and became involved with a local crisis center on their Suicide Hotline. When I was introduced to Sean I knew that I wanted to be part of this organization.  When Sean tells me I’m “on the phones” 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. I’ll be honest I feel comfortable handling anything that comes my way.  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. 

I recently had a call from a retired LEO that was going through some hard times, mostly PTSD for many years. He was a real nice guy that about three or four minutes into the call I asked him if he was thinking of talking his life. His answer was simple and to the point, “Ed I’ve thought of it many times before but never more than today.”  We talked about the positives in his life and how much his grandkids mean to him.  After about thirty minutes he told me he felt better and was going home to his family.   

Calls like that are what any first responder will get with Safe Call Now®.  The guys and gals that volunteer on the phones get what the responder is going through. It doesn’t matter where you work or what department or agency, make the call if you need to talk.