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Suicide Prevention Forum Draws 170

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On May 10, the auditorium at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus was the setting for a day-long conference on suicide prevention for emergency responders.

In attendance were police officers from most departments in the county along with officers from Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, and other counties. EMTs, fire fighters, probation officers, sheriffs and others concerned about suicide risk in the public safety professions also joined.

The forum was an outcome of an effort begun in late 2014 after the suicide of a police officer in Lower Providence Township and another in Radnor Township. MCES convened an ad hoc work group that included representatives from law enforcement, EMS, the fire service, and suicide prevention to look at the problem. It was determined that while most emergency responders had frequent contact with suicidal persons, many did not know about suicidality in their ranks.

MCES was tasked with developing suicide prevention information materials specifically for police officers, EMTs, paramedics, and fire fighters. With input from members of the work group, MCES issued "What First Responders Need to Know about Suicide." Supplies of the brochure were distributed to every police department in the county and copies were made available to police cadets and EMT trainees. Copies are also provided to all MCES Crisis Intervention Specialist trainees.

The work group plans to move beyond raising awareness about emergency responder suicide risk through educational materials and training and decided this could best be facilitated by bringing together representatives of the regional emergency responder community. The Forum was the result.

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Celebrating The Work Of MCES 305

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Our MCES-based EMS, Unit 305, is unique in many ways. It has a dedicated psychiatric emergency response mission. It is one of the few programs of its kind in the world. It responds throughout Montgomery County.

What makes it really special, however, are the men and women who staff it and help MCES help people at risk because of serious behavioral health emergencies.

During National EMS Week, we say thanks 305!

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Crisis Residential Program Turns 19

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The MCES Crisis Residential Program (CRP) turned 19 this year.

CRP is an important part of MCES's continuum of crisis services. It has been a stop on the road to recovery for hundreds of people since opening in 1998 on the grounds of the Valley Forge Medical Center. It quickly became known as "the Ranch House" because of the architectural style of the facility.

Now almost 20 years and two moves later, the program has been housed for several years in a three-story building on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital. Many still refer to it as the Ranch House though it more closely resembles a farm house.

The program is recovery oriented/trauma focused care. It offers short-term, supportive treatment in a home-like environment. It is a caring setting for individuals 18 or older needing a level of care between outpatient and hospitalization. At least two experienced mental health professionals are on duty at all times. In addition, Mike Solomon, a Certified Peer Specialist, is available to give support through counseling and groups.

A typical day begins at 8 a.m. with distribution of medication. A community meeting follows around 9:30 a.m. where staff and individuals talk about what's happening and goals for the day. Additional group meetings happen throughout the day tailored to the goals identified in the morning meeting. Dinner is served around 6:15 p.m. followed by a final group meeting at 8 p.m.

Coping skills are taught and stressed. Individuals take those skills with them when they leave after an average stay of a week. Staff support is highly individualized, as in the case of a woman who needed to take a walk when she became angry. Staff would head out on the campus with her, which helped her develop skills for dealing with her anger.

"We help individuals take responsibility for themselves," says Dawn Yavuz, MA, LPC, who directs the program. "If they are experiencing a crisis situation, we encourage them to use the skills. It's a good experiential learning process."

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Suicide Prevention