Monday, September 12, 2022

The Power of Peer Support: Low-Cost Peer Support Training Available This Fall

A guest post by LMCIT Public Safety Program Coordinator Lora Setter, lsetter@lmc.org

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” - Fred Rogers 


This quote from Mr. Rogers captures the spirit of public safety peer support. Because of the nature of their job duties, public safety professionals see and do things that are outside of the normal human experience. They are routinely exposed to trauma and death, which can take its toll on their mental health. Talking to a specially trained peer, can provide the psychological first aid needed to minimize or help negate the impact of those experiences. 

Peer support personnel are trained in specific knowledge areas such as active listening, confidentiality, suicide prevention, chemical dependency behaviors, signs and symptoms of PTSD, basic wellness, and positive relationship-building. Talking to a trained peer can provide trusted communication, encouragement, and an increased understanding of the emotional impact of critical incidents and traumatic events. When needed, peer support team members can afford colleagues with resources and referrals for a higher level of support before a psychological illness may become career-ending. 

Public safety departments are facing hiring and retention challenges, which make it even more important to create supportive, caring organizations that focus on employee wellness. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) encourages public safety entities to invest in the vital resource of peer support in the prevention, recognition, and support of public safety mental health. To help promote peer support initiatives, LMCIT has created a Peer Support Advisory Board made up of police, fire, and mental health professionals. The board provides recommendations and assists with the prioritization of LMCIT initiatives regarding peer support. 

One of the Board’s initiatives is to provide peer support training to public safety entities across the state. To aid in that initiative, this fall the LMCIT is hosting Peer Support Training at three locations: 

  • Nov. 1-2 — Cottage Grove
  • Nov. 3-4 — Marshall
  • Nov. 29-30 — Waite Park
Fee: $100 for League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust members; $450 for non-members (fee includes lunch and refreshments)

A survey of public safety leaders across Minnesota showed that both police and fire leaders view peer support programs as a helpful public safety mental health strategy. They see the power in peer support. 

For more information about this fall’s peer support training and to register, visit the League’s Peer Support Training webpage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Join Us for the Police Force Science Workshop


During this era of police reform, de-escalation training is one of many hot topics that are being discussed and highly embraced by law enforcement professionals as well as the community. De-escalation and response to resistance techniques have the potential to help prevent the need to use force in many encounters between police and community members.    

As with many issues in law enforcement, the entire concept of de-escalation and the use of force is complex. Every day, law enforcement officers across Minnesota and the nation deal with challenging encounters on the job. Most of these incidents result in successful and peaceful non-forceful resolutions, although some don’t always go smoothly — especially when dealing with a combative and uncooperative individual.  

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Center for Police Research and Policy (UC) recently published guidelines on how to begin evaluating an agency’s de-escalation practices. These guidelines were developed using versions of the Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training program by a multi-disciplinary group including police officers, attorneys, and subject-matter experts and are designed for police leaders interested in assessing and enhancing their agency’s capacity to implement, evaluate, and monitor de-escalation training and policies.  

As a police officer for many years, I can attest that police officers would like to avoid the need to use force whenever possible, although there are times when force is necessary to resolve a situation and avoid an escalation of an incident which could lead to a dangerous outcome including a critical incident.

An important component of effective de-escalation of an incident is training, and a cornerstone of good training is stressing the importance of communication that involves the incorporation of physical practice and scenario-based role-playing exercises in all areas of law enforcement operations.  

This fall, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is sponsoring a workshop developed by the Force Science Institute that will teach police officers how to best handle these critical situations —while keeping both officers and the public safe.  

Just recently, Force Science achieved national certification and international recognition for their Force Science courses thru the National Certification Program (NCP) of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). The course will cover many aspects of human psychology, police tactics and techniques, and negotiation strategies.

Register Today!

Registration for Force Science Institute Realistic De-escalation Training workshop is now open at lmc.org/22policeworkshop. This workshop has been approved for eight hours of POST credits for conflict management/mediation.

This workshop will be held at two locations, and the course fee has been reduced to $50 for LMCIT members (the fee for non-members is $295).

Additional information can be found here and registration questions can be directed to Carlie Derouin, event coordinator, at (651) 281-1258 or cderouin@lmc.org.

If you have any questions about the content of this training opportunity, you may contact me at tstille@lmc.org or give me a call at (651) 215-4051.


Remember: Responder Safety = Public Safety

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful - 

Tracy

Monday, July 11, 2022

OSHA’s New Heat Safety Directive and Key Points for Public Safety


A guest post by LMCIT Public Safety Specialist Troy Walsh

In public safety we don’t always get a choice to change our schedules or move an emergency to another day. How does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA)  new heat safety directive affect public safety and the weather that we just can’t wait out? If your organization is already doing some type of recycle or rehab cycles for staff you may be already in compliance, but if you’re not it needs to be implemented! 

OSHA implemented a National Emphasis Program (NEP) in April to reduce health-related hazards and resulting injuries and illness caused by excessive heat in the workplace. This article will provide you with the basic information you’ll need to know and give you quick access to additional information.  

Many of you are probably already following this directive: Much of it is common sense. But it’s a good reminder of how to prevent heat-related injuries and illness. Remember, heat stress can happen indoors too. 

Let’s look at the key points of the NEP.

NEP at a glance:

  • The NEP is a nationwide initiative modeled on existing Regional Emphasis Programs (REP) in southern states.
  • It applies to indoor and outdoor workers where the heat index reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There will be unannounced on-site visits by compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) who will “observe workers performing strenuous work in heat.”
  • Visits may occur based on heat-related complaints, referrals, and reported heat illness. 

Employers should:

  • Create a written plan to prevent heat-related illness.
  • Provide awareness training to employees.
  • Provide specific steps to prevent, identify, and treat heat-related illnesses.
  • Identify and control heat hazards.
  • Monitor workforce health and consider the current heat index and expected weather-related changes.
  • Provide water, rest, and shade. For workers with two-hour or greater exposure times, fluids containing electrolytes must also be accessible.
  • Recognize early symptoms of heat stress.
  • Administer first aid for heat-related illnesses.
  • Activate emergency medical services quickly when needed. 

WHEN IN DOUBT CALL 911 

What if you are 911, do you have a plan?

Most of you are already doing this! Plan your work cycles in accordance with the weather, allows for more frequent and longer breaks in the air-conditioned areas or at least in the shade, drink extra water, keep an eye on each other, and if you or someone else is showing symptoms of heat stress, get additional help! 

A handy heat reference

Last thing, to remember, heat related safety is in the palm of your hand. Literally. Yep, there’s an app for that. The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool includes everything you need including current local weather, a heat index calculator, diagnosis information, and treatment steps for heat illness. Go to https://www.osha.gov/heat/heat-app or the app store of your iPhone or Android and download the “OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool.”

Resources:

OSHA Heat Illness Prevention

OSHA Overview of the standard, impact, rationale, and more  

OSHA Overview of prevention of heat-related illness 

OSHA Overview of treatment and first aid   

OSHA Additional resources and technical information  

OSHA guide for employers (pdf) 

Trade Release from U.S. Department of Labor

Training Videos (free from LMCIT via Coastal Flix)

Safety Matters - Heat Stress

TAKE TWO...for Safety A New T.A.K.E.: Heat Stress

Pause for Performance: Heat Stress Safety

Heat Stress: Code Red

 If you have any questions or comments, you may contact me at twalsh@lmc.org or give me a phone call at (651) 281-1231. 


Remember:   Responder Safety = Public Safety

In the meantime, stay cool and be safe!

Troy