Training Institute Partners with Saint Paul Fire Department

Sep 8, 2022

For the first time ever, the Training Institute has partnered with the Saint Paul Fire Department (SPFD) for a series of mental health wellness trainings across their staff.

The Institute hosted these trainings for 10 full days in mid-August, issuing two 3-hour sessions each day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. SPFD members attended one session each, and by the time the 10 days passed, the Institute engaged approximately 270 agency members.

“When a person is having a mental health crisis, they require a slower approach,” said Training Institute Director Russ Turner, who was the instructor for the first half of SPFD’s trainings.

SPFD Deputy Chief Steve Sampson initially reached out to the Training Institute to address a gap in training he was seeing in his staff. In Saint Paul, these staff are essentially EMTs, firefighters who are trained to respond to emergency medical situations. However, their training prepares them to go into a crisis scenario and work quickly so they can get the individual to the hospital, which isn’t necessarily the most effective approach to mental health emergencies.

Sampson hoped a training series from the Institute could train SPFD staff to take an extra few minutes to assess the person psychologically, bringing in best practices for mental health long-utilized by industry professionals.

In constructing the most effective and relevant course for the SPFD, Turner combined content related to trauma in the brain, the concept of re-traumatization, de-escalation tools, and ended with a bit of self-care. He knew the course could offer tangible tactics for EMTs to use in many different scenarios, like how to approach a dysregulated individual without stigmatizing or retraumatizing them.

This partnership is exciting because, according to Turner, it’s a partnership that wouldn’t have happened five years ago when the Institute was still just an internal educational resource. The Institute is breaking out into the community in a visible way – people outside of the mental health bubble are interested in the material.

“What other instance can you think of where industry-specific training is branching out into the general public because there’s an interest?” said Turner. “The stigma is going down, and awareness is going up. Hopefully, this partnership will blossom into a culture shift, where people are more aware of mental health and willing to learn about it.”

We are excited about this new partnership, which signifies that more conversations about mental health are happening in the community. This is where People Incorporated’s work begins to tangibly bridge the gap.