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News Release
Oregon Public Safety Academy Hosts Mental Health First Aid for Fire & EMS Responders - 01/11/19

The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) was pleased to host a week-long train-the-trainer class for fire and EMS professionals from around the state called Mental Health First Aid for Fire/EMS.

The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) class teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Those who successfully completed the class today will be able to deliver a 8-hour training program which gives participants skills needed to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. The class focuses on the unique  experiences and needs of both career and volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel and is a  valuable resource that can make a difference in their lives, their  coworkers’ and families’ lives, and the communities they serve

Topics covered during the week included: A discussion of first responder culture, stigma and their relevance to the topic of mental health. •  Outreach tactics to respond to  individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. •  A discussion of the specific risk factors faced by many first responders and their families. •  A review of common mental health resources for first responders, their families and those who support them.

Individuals successfully completing the course will become certified to teach the adult with Fire and EMS focus curricula. In order to obtain instructor certification, individuals are required to complete a 5-day instructor training program offered by the national authorities of Mental Health First Aid USA. The interactive training program introduces the course, overviews adult learning styles and teaching strategies, and provides in-depth instruction on implementing and managing the program. Individuals must demonstrate mastery of the program through a written test and an evaluated presentation. Only participants who have been present for the entire 5-day training will be considered for certification as instructors. 

DPSST Director Eriks Gabliks said "The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) provides training classes to more than 13,000 career and volunteer firefighters who work for approximately 350 fire agencies around the state.  We know first-hand that some of these agencies have experienced a firefighter suicide and we want to help provide training classes and resources that will allow their members to identify co-workers who may need assistance to cope with the challenges of being a first responder."

Related Materials:

First Responder Center of Excellence https://www.firstrespondercenter.org/behavioral-health/

Journal of Emergency Medical Services reports in a 2015 survey of more than 4,000 first responders, that 37% had contemplated suicide and almost 7% had attempted it. That is more than 10 times the rate of the general population.

Forbes article on firefighter suicide https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2018/08/23/haunted-heroes-more-firemen-committed-suicide-in-2017-than-died-in-line-of-duty/#4e52bdbc2a24

For more information on the Mental Health First Aid organization please go to https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

For more information on the Mental Health First Aid for Fire & EMS Responders please go to: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Mental-Health-First-Aid-Fire-EMS-One-Pager.pdf

## Background Information on the DPSST ##

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) operates the Oregon Public Safety Academy which spans more than 235 acres in Salem. The Academy is nationally recognized for its innovative training programs and active stakeholder involvement. Eriks Gabliks serves as the Director, and Sheriff Jason Myers of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office serves as the Chair of the Board. The department implements minimum standards established by the Board for the training and certification of more than 40,000 city, tribal, county and state law enforcement officers, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, fire service personnel, telecommunicators, emergency medical dispatchers and private security providers.

DPSST provides training to more than 25,000 students each year throughout Oregon and at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem: certifies qualified officers at various levels from basic through executive; certifies qualified instructors; and reviews and accredits training programs throughout the state based on standards established by the Board.


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