Firefighters learn to battle behavioral health crises by asking questions

Chandler Battalion Chief Blas Minor said the increase of medical calls handled by firefighters should be paired with an increase in addressing mental health

By FireRescue1 Staff

CHANDLER, Ariz. — A group of firefighters are learning to identify signs of mental illness by asking “the tough questions.”

KJZZ reported that almost 200 firefighters from three different departments underwent their first-ever behavioral health training course in an effort to keep crew members mentally healthy with the department's increasing amount of medical calls.

“We kind of work in a rapid success,” Chandler Fire Department Battalion Chief Blas Minor said. “I think this makes us spend a little bit more time with the patient navigating or peeling back the layers of why we were actually called.”

The firefighters underwent a four-hour course, developed in part by Arizona State University, which taught them how to identify depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“Our firefighters now feel more comfortable asking the tough questions,” Chief Minor said. “What are the voices? Do you hear the voices now and what are they telling you? Are you having hallucinations?”

CFD will eventually pilot eight and 16-hour versions of the course.

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