By Julie Peticca, Director, MCES Crisis Department
It has been just over two years since MCES became part of the SAMAHA-funded National Suicide Lifeline Network. MCES is one of almost 170 hotlines and crisis centers taking calls to 1-800-273-TALK.
The MCES Crisis Center is the only network member in the metro-Philadelphia area operating 24/7 and consequently we receive most of the calls made on phones with 215, 610, 267, and 484 area codes. Last month, we took two such calls that demonstrate the value of the Lifeline and good crisis intervention skills.
Paul Butler, Assistant Director, of the MCES Crisis Department, was working the overnight one week helping to train a new employee. He took a Lifeline call from a gentleman who happened to be in Montgomery County ("in county" Lifeline calls are rare). The man was suicidal, intoxicated, and sitting in a field with a gun. Paul spent over an hour and half on the phone with this individual supporting him and talking him out of making a fatal decision. Meanwhile, the other personnel on duty that night, Ed Hinson, RN, Reuben Ray, and Brian Cline, EMT, were in contact with County Radio (911) to help locate the patient and dispatch aid. Paul kept the caller engaged until he was found by the Pennsylvania State Police. Troopers secured the caller's weapon. The MCES EMS Crew (305) also responded to the scene and the individual was brought to MCES for evaluation and subsequently admitted.
Alcohol and suicidality are a lethal combination and could have produced a fatality that night. However, that individual used the Lifeline to seek help. We are very proud of the efforts of Paul, Ed, Reuben, and Brian that early morning when no one else was available. They did well what we and other crisis centers do often.
Just the following week, our staff was involved in another "save" on the Lifeline characterized by similar excellent teamwork. Tracy Halliday, MSW, took a call from a 19-year old threatening suicide. Tracy used her intervention skills to build rapport with the caller and was able to get him to disclose his location in Bucks County. Brice Johnston, who was working with Tracy that night, got in touch with 911 in that county and local police came to his aide. Good job by both Tracy and Brice.
All MCES crisis staff have had experiences like these and most pass unnoticed because that's just what we do. That may be true but efforts like these should also be highlighted because they show how and why suicide is preventable and the essential role of crisis services.
The National Suicide Lifeline Facebook page notes "Hope is a call away." It takes hope to reach out for help when you are troubled by serious suicidal thoughts. It takes hope to stay on the line and listen to a total stranger whose skills may be all that stands between you and losing your life to suicide. The Lifeline delivers on that hope by linking resources like MCES and our crisis staff to individuals at-risk.
On May 1, Director of Development and Suicide Prevention Tony Salvatore accepted the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) Community Impact Award on behalf of MCES.
The Greater Philadelphia's AFSP recognized Tony and MCES for their unflagging dedication to preventing suicide not only in Montgomery County but throughout the region through "a wide range of crisis intervention and emergency psychiatric services." The honor recognized that:
• MCES is one of the only area participants in the National Suicide Lifeline that is 24/7/365, and MCES has been a Lifeline member for over a year.
• Tony and MCES created a Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Taskforce following three local police suicides in 2014.
• Tony and MCES created and distributed suicide prevention tool kits to first responders, high school counselors, family members, and, through a project with their Youth & Philanthropy Club, faculty members at the Owen J. Roberts Middle School.
• SEPTA and MCES partnered on a suicide prevention project that placed signs for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system-wide, along 450 miles of railway—the first suicide prevention initiative of this kind in the area.
This is just a small sampling of the suicide prevention initiatives that Tony and MCES are responsible for. The Community Impact Award, bestowed at the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the AFSP's 7th Annual "Party with a Purpose" held at the home of Dr. Dwight Evans, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, is a fitting acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication that goes into preventing suicide.
"The recognition is nice, but I appreciate more the ongoing support of MCES's suicide prevention activities by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention over many years," said Tony.
Tony was also honored by Moving Agencies Toward Excellence (MAX Association) in March with its "Service Excellence Award for Outstanding Services."
MCES is looking to fill the following positions. Come be part of the MCES team.
Part-Time Evening and Weekend Psychiatric Techs
Qualifications: Bachelor's degree in an area of Human Services (Psychology, Sociology, Counseling, Criminal Justice, etc.) from an accredited college or university plus a minimum of 1 year of mental health direct care experience OR an Associate's Degree in an area of Human Services with twelve (12) semester Behavioral Health college credit hours plus two years of mental health direct care experience in the field; OR a High school diploma or equivalency plus twelve (12) semester Behavioral Health college credit hours plus three years of mental health direct care experience in the field or any combination of experience, education or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skill, and ability required. Other experience or education may be required by the credentialing body where appropriate.
Part-Time Environmental Services
Environmental Services Qualifications: High school diploma or equivalency (GED) and some related experience or any combination of experience, education, or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skill, and ability required.
Part-Time Ambulance Transport
Ambulance Qualifications: High school diploma or equivalency (GED) and a minimum of (1) one year of emergency or transport experience required. Successful applicants must have the ability to properly use the Montgomery County Telecommunication System.
For immediate consideration for any of the positions, please submit a resume to Sharon Bieber. Click here to email Sharon.
MCES is an EO Employer M/F/VETERAN/DISABLED