First responder crisis training in Collier County

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Whether it’s a domestic dispute or a medical emergency, first responders are the first line of defense when it comes to incidents outside our control.

Now, Collier County is enhancing its emergency response with crucial crisis intervention training.

The first responders who went through Wednesday’s training also learned how critical it is to have empathy and make it their mission to have positive outcomes for everyone involved.

Sheriffs, deputies and police officers deal with someone suffering from some sort of mental health crisis every day.

“It’s very important for officers to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms of somebody in crisis and to be able to employ some techniques to reduce the anxiety,” said Collier County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer.

Weidenhammer helped create the Collier County Sheriff’s Behavioral Health Bureau.

She’s leading crisis intervention training this week with help from the National Alliance for Mental Illness, or NAMI.

“It’s so important that one in four are suffering and living with mental illness every day, and it’s so important that they learn the de-escalation and the ways to just make to speak to people and the things that make people more comfortable,” said Beth Hatch from NAMI in Collier County.

Corrections officers, patrol officers and members of Naples and Marco Island Police Department also took part in this training, because they all will use it as often as every day.

It’s critical that first responders determine quickly whether the call for help involves someone doing something criminal or suffering from some mental health issue.

“To realize that these are human beings out there first that we’re responding to, and there’s somebody who’s loved one, they may be somebody’s child, they may be somebody’s parent, they may be somebody’s grandparent, aunt, uncle, your neighbor,” Weidenhammer said.

The goal is to get more and more officers and deputies this kind of training, so if a first responder of any kind comes in contact with someone suffering from a mental health crisis, then they can call one of the CIT certified officers to help defuse the situation.

For more in formation on NAMI, click here.

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