Safe Call Now

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I'm a Cop... Yes, I Had a Love Affair

By Safe Call Now

Yes, I have to admit it.  I had a torrid, sensual and illicit love affair.  It lasted for 23 years and I thought it would never end.  At the beginning it was so incredible, so romantic and so sensual and towards the end it was so hard to conceal and cover up with lies.  My love affair ended up destroying my marriage, my children, my career and my life. I will explain more later… 

So you’ve read this far, you must be interested… There are many studies out there that indicate that first responders have a much higher divorce rate than the general public.  I always have to ask myself why is this???  You truly are healthier than the general population when you are hired, you are vetted out to be so.  Somewhere along the line (usually the 7-10 year mark) studies and my experience tell me that there is the potential for us to start to lose our way.  As I travel the country I find it very interesting that there is so much help for the first responders and how to “love” them and how the family learns to adapt to their new jobs.  It just amazes me, why does the family system and dynamics have to change for the first responder?  Who made up that rule?  Talk about reinforcing dysfunction.

One definition for a love affair is “a romantic relationship or episode between lovers”…  Oh I had this incredible affair for so long and I thought it was wonderful.  It wasn’t with a woman, it was with my job and addiction (alcohol and pills).  She was a seductive mistress and I fell hard for her and the attention she gave me.  As I got more and more into my life as a “Cop” and detached from my family I attempted to fill the void of my inability to have healthy interpersonal relationships with those I supposedly loved.  I had great superficial relationships with those that I worked with and had their backs.  Actually looking back on it, they were all pretty fake relationships.  But the job and the drugs fed my ego, they loved me and they were always there for me.  So I thought...

All the studies were right I thought and just like they told me at the academy, you’re more likely than not to get a divorce.  It’s normal, they told me so.  Reflecting back on it, that’s the biggest piece of bullshit advice I’ve ever been given.  I still hear it at academies today in their family programs and I challenge anyone out there in the first responder community to engage me on this subject and make sense of why it has to be this way.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Most Important People You Will Never Meet... Dispatchers

By Jan Myers - 911 Wellness Foundation

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 posttraumatic 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? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting a #1stresponder Into Treatment...

Safe Call Now

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.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

11 Years... My Grace is Gone...

My Grace is Gone...

11 years ago today my journey began... On this day I lost my grace, my freedom, my self-worth and my ability to be a productive member of society.  Reflecting back on it, hell I threw it away!  Being on the road gives me a lot of time to think about 23 years of alcoholism and addiction prior to this 11 year journey.

On this day 11 years ago I just wanted one more drink, just one more drug...  My grace was truly gone.  I remember turning myself into the Federal Building in downtown Seattle to the U.S. Federal Marshals Office to be handcuffed, leg shackled, finger printed and photographed.  The same things I used to do to those I arrested.  Now I was on the other side of the bars.

I was indicted by the Federal Government for "doctor shopping"...  No way, not me.  I'm a cop for God's sake.  I live by a code, I have ethics!!!  I'm a fighter, I win, I go home at the end of shift, surley everyone else in America was wrong and I was right.  After 23 years running hard and dictating life on my terms, my world came to an end or so I thought.  I thought I just needed a break from the world until I realized the world needed a break from me.  I'm grateful that the U.S. Courts decided that my addiction was going to end on March 17th, 2005.  The truth is, I don't think I would have ever stopped unless someone stepped in.

I plead guilty because I was guilty.  Time to stop being the victim, time to own my actions and behaviors and either a time to get busy living or get busy dying.  It was one of those days that was the worst day of my life yet at the same time it turned out to be the best day of my life.  I remember treatment, I remember court, I remember not even having enough money to put a donation into the AA basket.  I remember being proud of the first day I was able to put one dollar into the donation basket.  That was a big day for me.

This 11 year journey for me has been hard, it's been enjoyable, it's been devastating, it's been humbling and it's been fun all at the same time.  I guess some would say that this is life?  For me it's been a journey of enlightenment, self-awareness and learning to serve others...  I am grateful.

I just want to take this time to thank those that have come into my life and those I have met along the way.  You have all helped me to create a life that I can be proud of, I could have never accomplished this on my own.  I'm grateful for one more day of sobriety and today I don't need one more drink or one more drug...  I just need to serve others.  Maybe my grace isn't gone???

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Addressing Substance Abuse in the #1stresponder Population

A Safe Call Now Special Report

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 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#1stresponders... Do I Need to Change???

By Safe Call Now's Steve Gutzler

Former President Woodrow Wilson said, "If you want to make enemies, change something." Few of us, if we are honest, welcome change. I used to think leaders welcomed change and followers didn't, but the truth is people don't like change, especially first responders.
Not all change is good. It takes thought and wisdom to select the right change personally and professionally. The good news is, the right change can lead to growth and breakthrough.
I'd like to offer four keys on how to lead change:
1. Don't make cosmetic change, get to the core – 
Always ask yourself, what or who is at the core the core that needs to be changed? A surface level change can cause pain and disruption. Cosmetic changes only delay growth and positive results. 
For example, I just arrived back from Washington DC where I spent time with the president of a dynamic and growing company I'll be working with. They recently noticed long-standing employees leaving. Upon exit interviews they discovered an erosion of company morale and values.
Instead of making surface level changes, they surveyed their staff and are now aggressively making the proactive change to renew the culture, morale, and personal development of each team member. They are doubling down on investing in their team – that's called transformational change. Positive change. The right change.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Video... The Day I Had to Take Your Life. By a Cop

With permission from the Officer Involved Project we were given their blessing in presenting this video of an officer reading a letter he wrote to the man he killed in the line of duty.  It is one of the most powerful videos we have ever seen that highlights the interactions and most importantly the aftermath of an officer involved shooting.  It is worth your time to see what it's really like.

Remember if you're a first responder and struggling with any kind of personal or professional matter that is impacting your life, we at Safe Call Now are here for you 24/7-Nationwide.  #1stresponder to #1stresponder 206-459-3020

Friday, March 11, 2016

#1stresponders... We Need Thinking Time!!!

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?