Mecosta County to implement crisis training for first responders

MECOSTA COUNTY – A collaboration between Mecosta and Osceola County Sheriff’s Departments and Meceola Central Expedition plans provide critical crisis training to first responders in the region.

The Mecosta County Council of Commissioners authorized the submission of a grant application to the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority’s Risk Avoidance Program to help fund mental health and crisis intervention training at its meeting Thursday.

The RAP was created in 1997 to help innovative projects with high potential to address specific risk management problems of government agencies, including specific education or training programs.

The grant program has helped purchase cameras for law enforcement vehicles, camera data storage, tasers for law enforcement, EMS equipment and other useful items.

“The Risk Avoidance Program is a program that the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority funds annually,” said Mecosta County Administrator Paul Bullock. “They are currently funding it to the tune of $ 1.7 million, of which $ 1 million is available for members to use for things that help reduce risk.”

“Sheriff’s departments, EMS directors and dispatch all got together and said they were seeing more and more first responders finding themselves in situations they weren’t sure how to handle,” he said. he continued. “There are trainings that can help them. Two things that we believe would be helpful for our first responders and local law enforcement are mental health first aid and crisis intervention. “

Bullock said that because of concerns about the ability of law enforcement agencies to deal with mental health crises and engage with those experiencing a mental health crisis, they are asking the MMRMA to help with the proper training required to avoid negative results.

“We see quite often in the news where a mental health crisis can lead to a very bad outcome for someone and we would like to avoid that if possible,” Bullock said. “This training program, in our opinion, will give us the ability to react quickly to determine whether the situation is the result of criminal activity or a mental health crisis, and will result in more appropriate responses for the forces of order and first responders.

“We have been trying to do this for years and it will formalize and give our people this type of training,” he continued. “What we are asking the authority to do is help us train our trainers who will then train our first responders.”

Bullock explained this plan to develop four trainers for Mecosta and Osceola counties. These four trainers, in turn, will train first responders in both counties, including law enforcement, EMS, firefighters, correctional officers and dispatch center workers.

“The beauty of having in-house trainers is that we can train anyone who is interested,” Bullock said. “Local trainers will work with our first responders and we can do it here when available. We will not limit training to our staff. We have the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, the Department of Public Safety of Ferris State University. We have the local Osceola County Police Department. We would provide the training for free and they would only have to pay for the equipment.

The cost to train a mental health first aid trainer is $ 2,500 and for crisis intervention $ 2,900.

The subsequent training of all other first responders will cost $ 52 per person for the equipment.

“It looks like we’re talking about $ 30,000, and we’re asking MMRMA to cover 50% of that, which means locally we’ll have to find $ 15,000,” Bullock said. “It would be between us, Osceola County and Meceola Dispatch.

“I’m going to ask you to set aside funds for this during the budget process,” he continued. “We are looking at 2022, because it will take so long to align everything and plan the courses. The PAR grant is a repayable grant, so agencies should appropriate the money, spend the money, and then get reimbursed. “

Bullock added that whether or not they get the grant, he would like to see them implement the program because he thinks it would be worth it, and recommended that they budget the full amount.

“The first time one of our agents has the ability to defuse instead of the situation escalating to the point of having to get hold of someone, it pays off, because every time you have to get hold of someone ‘One, the potential for a really bad result is there,’ he said. “We will never be able to quantify a return on investment, but from the point of view of caring for people in crisis, it will save money and save lives.

“Is that going to stop all the bad results – no,” he added. “But it will give our first responders a much better chance of avoiding a bad outcome. This is something we can be really excited about and proud of. “

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