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Crisis Intervention Teams Training
The Westmoreland County BHDS Office collaborated with Mental Health America SW PA (MHASWPA) and The Southwest Crisis Intervention Teams to complete the first of two Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) Trainings for our first responders. The first training was held in Allegheny Township from June 7-11, 2021, with graduation being held on Friday June 11, 2021.
This was the first class in Westmoreland County since June 2018. There are now 16 more first responders that completed the 5-day, 40-hour training focused on in depth information about the numerous mental health diagnoses, varying symptoms, psychotropic medications and their side effects, suicide awareness and prevention, the available Mental Health services and resources, and verbal de-escalation tactics when responding to a person in a Mental Health crisis. Another important part of the training included site visits to the Wesley Family Services Pioneer Complex and the Diversion and Stabilization Unit (DAS) in New Kensington, where the class got to talk with our mental health consumers. Dialogue amongst the first responders and the consumers created a better understanding for all and showed that communication and empathy are always key when attempting to resolve a crisis situation.
The graduates represented different roles and departments including Emergency Management Services (EMS), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Park Police, Departmental and Township Police, School Resource Officers, and a Corrections Officer. All the information and de-escalation tactics learned in this class are invaluable and will protect the person in crisis as well as the first responders. The ultimate goal is to guide them toward the appropriate resources and services instead of putting them into the criminal justice system for behaviors related to their mental illness.
We are hopeful to have another great class during the second training from June 21-25, 2021, at Westmoreland County Community College.