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Monday, February 8, 2016

Mental Health First Aid

Guest blog by LMCIT Public Safety Specialist Tracy Stille

Would you be able to recognize the signs of someone having a mental or emotional crisis? Would you stop to assist this person, or would you consider behavioral health issues too personal for your intervention? What does depression or a panic attack look like? What would you say to someone who says they are thinking about suicide?

It’s somewhat easy to tell when someone is having a heart attack or is choking—and you may know CPR and the Heimlich maneuver—but can you administer first aid in a mental health crisis?

All of these are good questions when dealing with someone who is suffering a mental or emotional crisis, as one in five Americans has a mental illness—and many are reluctant to seek help, or might not know where to turn for care. As a society, we largely remain ignorant about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and we ignore our role as responsible community members and public safety professionals to help people experiencing these illnesses.

With the goal of making mental health first aid training as familiar as CPR first aid training, half a million people across the country (including me) have taken the new training, “Mental Health First Aid.” Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training course that teaches you how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
Tracy Stille

I completed the training and three-year certification this past October at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. I went into the training with a general knowledge of mental health issues, but I walked away much more informed and aware of these issues that affect many people every day. One clear message that was delivered was that Mental Health First Aid helps first responders gain awareness and is a public education program that can help individuals across the community to understand mental illnesses, support timely intervention, and save lives.

Mental Health First Aid Training

In 2008, the National Council for Behavioral Health brought Mental Health First Aid to community members and business leaders, health and human services staff, police officers, first responders, corrections officers, and other public safety professionals to help them better understand mental illnesses and addictions, and provide them with effective response options to deescalate incidents without compromising safety. If you are interested in having some of your public safety officers (police and fire) attend this training—or perhaps receive training as an instructor—here is the link to their website:

If you are interested in the free training currently being offered at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN, contact Tiffany Utke at (612) 706-4566 or A waiting list is currently being established for the next training class, which is scheduled for February 22, 2016 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you have any questions or comments for me, please reach out to or (651) 215-4051.

                                       Remember:  Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up Next: Firefighter Retention, Recruitment and Background Checks

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, February 1, 2016

PATROL DWI Special Bulletin

From time to time, we provide the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust’s PATROL online peace officer training membership with a “Special Bulletin” involving recent case-law decisions immediately impacting law enforcement. Recently, the issues of DWI testing laws and test refusal charges have surfaced. We encourage you to review the following Special Bulletin on this issue (you can also find it in the online PATROL Library):

This Bulletin includes more information about the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of a breath test refusal case from Minnesota, and the Minnesota Supreme Court’s consideration of a blood test refusal decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals. These reviews are pending, which means we're in an environment of legal uncertainty, but we've provided some general practice tips for dealing with the many unknowns.

As always, we urge you to talk with your prosecutors about what you should be doing in your own jurisdiction.

Up next: Mental Health First Aid

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Drones—What’s Up

The technology and regulation related to drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), continues to be a moving target. League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) research attorney Quinn O’Reilly continues to follow the changes and recently published this article:

Quinn’s Update—Public vs. Private Use of Drones
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced a new online registration system for recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems, often called “drones.” Information on the program can be found here: Though city residents using drones for hobby uses will likely need to register using this website, drones used by cities for public purposes may not be registered using the new site.

Any city interested in utilizing a drone for any public use must follow the procedures the FAA has established, which can be reviewed here: While there is a registration process for government-owned drones, the registration can only be done in paper form and not using the new online system.
Quinn O'Reilly

Drones are a new and exciting area of the law, but regulations are quickly changing. The FAA has been tasked with working to incorporate drones safely into U.S. airspace. The new registration requirement for hobbyist users is one of the methods the FAA is utilizing to ensure safety in the skies, as well as the safety of individuals on the ground. The registration will assist the FAA in its task to ensure those piloting drones are following the rule of law and are flying safely.

If you have any questions regarding drones or the FAA’s regulations, please contact Quinn O’Reilly at, or the FAA office in Minneapolis at (612) 253-4400.

Drone Guidance for Law Enforcement
On January 8, the FAA released UAS Guidance for Law Enforcement. The document reads: “State and local police are often in the best position to immediately investigate unauthorized UAS operations and, as appropriate, to stop them. The document explains how first responders and others can provide invaluable assistance to the FAA by:
  • Identifying potential witnesses and conducting initial interviews
  • Contacting the suspected operators of the UAS or model aircraft
  • Viewing and recording the location of the event
  • Collecting evidence
  • Identifying if the UAS operation was in a sensitive location, event, or activity
  • Notifying one of the FAA’s Regional Operation Centers about the operation as soon as possible”
The contact information for the FAA Regional Center for Minnesota is (817) 222-5006 and

More information, the full guidance document, information about sporting events, and frequently asked questions can be found here:

Up next: Mental Health First Aid

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.