60th SFS receives training in crisis intervention

60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Story by Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad

Date: 02.28.2018
Posted: 02.28.2018 10:35
News ID: 267502
60th SFS receives lesson in crisis intervention

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Members of the 60th Security Forces Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, California, received crisis intervention training from a Tustin-based company, Feb. 26 at the base’s 60th SFS training compound.
The training, which focused on educating 60th SFS personnel in how to de-escalate situations involving victims of mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, is a part of Travis’ ongoing effort in both updating its already effective safety protocols and maintaining readiness amid an evolving understanding of mental illness.
“The purpose of CIT is to get people with mental health problems out of the justice system and into the appropriate programs where they can get the help they need,” said Brad Young, crisis intervention instructor and former Palo Alto police officer. “There was an instance in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 80s, where a couple of cops had shot a man with a developmental disability and it wasn’t until afterwards where they realized, ‘You know? We could’ve done something different.’ We work to educate police that, yes, you can do something different, and here it is.”
That “something different” comes in the form of an eight-hour long course that teaches class attendees about mental illnesses and developmental disabilities like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism as well as enlists the help of volunteers to engage class attendees in practical exercises that teach them techniques to talk to people who are suffering from mental health problems.
“Our main focus with the training is to take individuals who may not necessarily be clinicians and give them the tools necessary to empathize and connect with potential victims in order to allow them to rethink and reshape what it is they’re feeling,” said Duane Thompson, director of operations for the CIT training. “What it boils down to is changing mindsets in order to change outcomes.”
Currently, about 41,000 people die each year by suicide, which is the 10th leading cause of death among adults and the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The center also reports that more than half a million Americans receive medical care annually for self-inflicted injuries.
At Travis AFB, various resources are made available to Airmen and their families dealing with mental illness including the military crisis line at 800-273-8255, the mental health clinic at David Grant USAF Medical Center and the Chaplain Corps.
While the programs currently in place to help Airmen through troubling times are effective, they don’t replace the feeling of solidarity that can accompany a simple text or phone call, said Senior Airman David Set, 60th SFS patrolman
“When people first come to this base, they don’t know anyone,” said Set. “Those Airmen who don’t know anyone, text them, call them, involve them. When they go home, it’s easy to just stay there, and that can be dangerous to someone who is going through a bad time or who really shouldn’t be isolated. No matter where we find ourselves in work or in life, it should be a priority to look out for one another and help them in whatever way we can.”
Young hopes that what the defenders learned in his class takes hold in their future engagements with suspects and that when it comes to being ready, they won’t have to think about it.
“We can all spend our days here planning and talking and dumping a bunch of words into a bunch of people’s brains, but unless you think on those words and internalize them, that’s all they’re going to stay: just words,” said Young. “It’s the practice of the method that turns an ‘Oh, give me a second while I remember what I learned in training’ moment into a knee-jerk reaction; fast and streamlined. That’s the difference between acting ready and being ready.”