Safe Call Now

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Firefighters Do It Better...

By Metropolitan Alliance of Police Board Member John Holiday

That’s right I said it. In fact the small town volunteer fire departments do it best. What do they do? They take care of each other and themselves. They debrief after each critical incident they handle. They talk about what went when well, what went bad, and what images they would like to erase from their mind.

What do we do? We get back in our squad, by ourselves, and go to the same domestic battery call we go to every week. You know the one. The one where the couple wants you to fix 10 years of abuse in 5 minutes.

Sean Riley, the founder of Safe Call Now, recently spoke at our annual seminar.  He talked about how we are trained to do the job the vast majority of the population are unwilling or unable to do.

Think about it. There are 325 million people in the United States of which only 765,000 are sworn law enforcement officers. That’s 0.2%. We take 0.2% of the general population and train them to not think like the rest of the population.  We train your brain to do the exact opposite of what other people’s brains tell them to do. We train you to run toward the gunfire, run toward the danger, and go down into the dark basement where someone is screaming for help. We train you to have a “Warrior Mindset.” Then at the end of a 12 hour shift, we expect you to turn it all off, forget everything that happened, and go back and function with the other 99.8% of the population. We are very good at training you how to do the job, but we have zero training on how to go home at night. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

I'm Alive Because I Made One Phone Call...

By Kevin Hagen

You could say my story with my mental illness began several years ago (maybe 15?), but I chose to ignore the signs and figured it was just me. I was bullied in high school and that had an impact on my self-esteem as I was growing up and even in my adult years. I was married for 20 years and for most of those years I was told what a bad person I was and that I was not a very good man. After hearing such things for that long, I started to believe them! I have had tragedies in my life like most people, and some that affected me for many years, like the death of my mother. I believed that I was not worthy of being happy and that I was meant to just be that way so I should live with it. I managed to struggle through life like that for most of my adult life.

My job as a police officer added to the issues I already had. I have seen some very terrible things in my career, and some of them stick with me no matter how hard I tried to forget them. Because I chose to ignore my problems, they just got bigger and bigger: the 800 pound gorilla in the room, if you will. I managed to stuff my feelings and tell myself, “Hey, this is what I deserve, so I just gotta suck it up.” I ended up getting divorced, and I figured that was the answer to all of my problems. Obviously it was not. I went from bad relationship to bad relationship, always finding women that needed help; that way I could be the hero and fix things for them. It never worked that way. I just ended up taking on more and more problems, more and more debt, and finally I could not find happiness in anything, but I figured that is what I deserved.

I felt I had successfully stuffed my problems, but then all of the sudden, I was not ever happy. I lost interest in most things I enjoy; I ignored my children who I only see every other weekend; I pushed my friends away and just isolated myself in my home. One night everything came to a head. The hopelessness overwhelmed me. The nightmares came every night, so I was scared to go to sleep some nights. All I could see in front of me was a black wall, and in my mind it was all hopeless and I was lost.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The #1stresponder Becoming an Accidental Adddict

By Dr. Maryann Rosenthal, Ph.D.

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.