SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A new grant awarded to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office will allow more first responders to be trained in critical incident stress management. The training isn’t just for those in Sedgwick County, but for all of the region.
The $51,000 grant will allow first responders to participate in the training for free.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office has been pushing to make sure more first responders and their agencies are better equipped to process those difficult situations they are often exposed to. For smaller agencies that may not be able to afford that training, this is a great opportunity.
Deputy N.G. Narvais with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said critical incident stress management training is all about making sure first responders are mentally okay.
“We are kind of letting them know, hey, you are on the train tracks, here is what the train looks like, here is what the train sounds like, now it is time for you to move off those tracks,” explained Narvais.
Narvais helps instruct one of the courses to help provide support and aid to deputies who might be having trouble processing a difficult scene, or an officer-involved shooting. When those incidents happen, they will be better prepared to reach out firsthand on the scene.
“We want to make sure the family know ahead of time as well, rather them catching it on social media or the news, because, again, we want to have that firsthand contact to get ahead of a negative circumstance if at all possible,” explained Narvais.
The new grant will help spread that outreach and training.
“Forewarned is forearmed,” said Lieutenant Lin Dehning with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
Now the department can afford even more training to boost the number of people qualified to help those first responders who may be struggling.
“We could have people here go through the training and we could have people from other agencies to go through the training as well,” added Dehning.
Smaller agencies don’t always have the money and resources for this type of training.
“Well, I would say typically through the years and the past, law enforcement officers have been taught to just suck it up, this is part of the job,” said Park City Police Chief Phil Bostian.
Right now for serious times where his officers need mental aid, they’ll call on Kansas Highway Patrol to help council his officers, but if you asked him if he had something he could rely on day-to-day, he would say no.
Bostian said he can foresee sending his men and women down to be trained and have them come back equipped to help others on his squad.
“I think it is a very positive thing for officers to be in an environment where they are safe with their peers, where they feel like they can share what they are feeling and what they are going through,” said Bostian.
The training is free for the first responders and Lin Dehning said this also helps establish a point of contact at other agencies, so when a situation does call for the critical incident stress management team, they can send their guys there to go hold those debriefings.
The critical incident stress management training is quite costly without the grant. Each class would cost a minimum of $2,500, not including books and material fees.