There were 19 states that converged for the 2nd annual National Association of Public Safety Social Workers Conference 2022 that took place this year in Indianapolis, IN. How amazing to see social workers AND law enforcement in the same room discussing methodology for responses to person's in crisis in their communities...TOGETHER! A plethora of information was shared on how various agencies are doing their things and seeing amazing results! I was really excited to hear what others were doing so that I could bring back ideas to my own agency.
The topics varied and included timely discussions on macro-level work enhancing micro-level interactions, mobile crisis units, building community connections, approaches to bridge gaps in substance use treatment, mass violence response resources, decreasing call volume, veterans in crisis, first responder culture, embedded and co-response units, and utilizing animal assisted interventions within the community and for first responder wellness.
I was honored to be provided the opportunity to present on first responder culture. I'm extremely passionate about increasing cultural competency to clinicians working with public safety. Either as clients or alongside them for many reasons.
One reason is because social work education does NOT prepare individuals for working in the field next to first responders and being realistic about expectations for what they will experience. While the academy falls short in providing individuals with a trauma informed lens, so too does social work education. Social workers who are co-responding are in fact first responders, plain and simple. They are seeing, hearing, smelling, and overall experiencing the same hair raising things that first responders are. They have no knowledge about what physiologically happens when exposed to high doses of incredible stress. Que in Dr. Kevin Gilmartin's book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers and their Families.
For those who are trying to find some good reads that help with cultural competency here is a book list. Hope it helps! One of my other all time favorites....Too Tired to Cook: The Shift Worker's Guide to Working (and Surviving) In a 24/7 World by Audra Starkey. Happy Reading friends!