First Responders— Using Behavioral Health Approaches to Improve Safety for All

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services; CAPT Maryann E. Robinson, Ph.D., R.N., Chief, Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch

Every day, first responders including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services ‘personnel face situations requiring rapid but thoughtful decision-making. De-escalating a crisis, particularly ones involving persons who may be experiencing a mental illness or substance use disorder requires an approach informed by behavioral health knowledge. SAMHSA developed resources for first responders to provide the knowledge necessary to support individuals in crisis while maintaining safety.

First responders can be the first step on the road to recovery. Whether a person in crisis is experiencing an acute primary psychosis manic episode, severe depression or a drug overdose the goal is to provide trauma-informed support to people in need.

Creating Safe Scenes is a free online training course featuring interactive elements to train first responders to achieve five goals:

  • Understand the basics of behavioral health crises , including factors that may lead to crises
  • Make a safe connection with an individual experiencing a crisis
  • Use de-escalation strategies as needed when working with an individual in crisis
  • Develop community networks and share referral resources
  • Increase the safety of everyone on scene, including themselves and individuals in crisis

The Creating Safe Scenes Training Course may be accessed at: Web Site Policy

Also, as our nation deals with the epidemic of opioid use and overdose, SAMHSA has developed an Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit for first responders, community members and prescribers to help save lives. This toolkit offers strategies to health care providers, communities, and local governments for developing practices and policies to help prevent opioid-related overdoses and deaths. Access reports for community members, prescribers, patients and families, and those recovering from opioid overdose. The Opioid Toolkit may be accessed at:

Creating Safe Scenes and the Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit will help first responders apply safe behavioral health strategies during a crisis, as well as promote and practice the ever-important act of self-care, at all times.

Behavioral health crises can often be prevented through services and support. To find help in your community, visit SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator,, or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) for voice or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD).

, , , , ,

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Day 4

I made it another day without a drink! NO hangover again. Went to a meeting with some wise men yesterday and it definitely helped. Last night was difficult the ah was not happy with me again for...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Solitude

“Until the time is right, disappear, we will. Master Kenobi, wait a moment. In your solitude on Tatooine, training, I have for you.” – Yoda “Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith”. *The Practice* ...Read More

Day 3

Here we go again. I've been binge drinking for about 20 years.The guilt of my lifestyle and the fact I'm not getting any younger has really caught up with me. I want to be a better parent and stay...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Learn

“Suspend your judgment, and every being has something to teach you.” – Qui-Gon Jinn One of the greatest mistakes that can be made is to reject something out of hand, without any consideration....Read More

The Daily Jedi: Focus

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality” – Qui-Gon Jinn *Focus* If you focus on wrongs you energize anger, resentment and frustration. If you focus on forgiveness you energize...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Training is Life

"Training to be a Jedi is not an easy challenge, and even if you succeed, it's a hard life." - Qui-Gon Jinn *Life is Suffering* Life is hard and so is recovery. Our daily practices, applying...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Redemption

When Anakin had succumbed to his fears, anger and hate and fallen to the dark side the person that he was died. In his place rose Darth Vader, a dark shadow of his former self and a slave to the Dark...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Absolutes

* “Only a Sith deals in absolutes” – Obi-wan Kenobi* When Obi-Wan Kenobi faced Anakin on the Planet Mustafa his friend and apprentice had fallen to the Dark Side. Obi-Wan Kenobi was dealing with...Read More

The Daily Jedi: Future

“You cannot prevent what you cannot see coming. You can only do what you think is right at each moment as you live it. We can plan, hope, and dread the future. What we cannot do is know it.” –...Read More