Local agencies take part in special training for crisis intervention

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire police say they respond to a large number of cases dealing with mental illness or other trauma experiences each year, because of that, local emergency responders are getting special training for these situations.

About 25 people from multiple agencies in the Chippewa Valley spent all week training on trauma informed care. On Friday, they put their new skills into action through scenarios that were played out with actors. Actors were portraying different mental illnesses and working with officers on how to best handle the situation.

“To decipher communication skills, how to get their point across and just technical effectiveness skills for them,” said Brandon Olson, a RN at Mayo Clinic Health Systems. Olson was one of several nurses who helped guide the actors on how to react and then just let the scenario play out during a scene with a female in the road who won't move.

"Listening to their story and really being active listeners in that and acknowledging how they are feeling, a lot of these situations the actors are portraying are real life situations that people have gone through and it's important we are being empathetic and sympathetic to their experiences,” said Bridget Coit from the Eau Claire Police Department.

The training included local officers, dispatchers and other emergency service personal and focused on teaching them how to de-escalate the situation. "We do deal with these situations quite often so just having this training just gives me extra tools in my toolbox to use,” said Andrea Christianson a deputy from Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office.

It was often a slow-moving process by talking to the individual to get them to cooperate with officers. "People are just busy, we want to get on from one thing to the next and it's okay to take the time to really listen and get to know that individual and to help them in the most effective way that we can,” Coit said.

The Eau Claire Police Department has hosted local trainings since 2015 and they plan to continue to hold them regularly to keep officials prepared for crisis intervention.