According to the CIT & CIP Wisconsin website, Crisis Intervention Partners training, also known as CIP training, is designed for wide-ranging audiences interested in better understanding and improving interactions with people who experience mental health crises. Participants include correctional officers, 911 dispatchers, emergency personnel, hospital staff, teachers, social workers, and more. Through information and practice, CIP is re-training participants to effectively use attitudes, beliefs, and verbal/non-verbal skills as part of their response to crisis situations.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, this training was an eye-opening experience for me. Because CIP training is modeled after CIT training, a 40-hour training for police teams, it is comprised significantly of material used in law enforcement. I have never had very much experience in the law enforcement world and the fields that work with police officers, so I haven’t had the opportunity to see some of the difficult situations they have to face and the challenging decisions they have to make every day.
The majority of attendees in my training were Emergency/911 Dispatchers. Throughout the training, I was able to hear some of their stories, both inspiring and heartbreaking. Suicide and how to help a person expressing suicidal ideations were frequent topics that we discussed in training, and many of the dispatchers and other jail personnel have encountered it first-hand. Learning more about these situations and real-life experiences that the professionals in my training had faced, I couldn’t believe how strong they are. I have experienced a mental health crisis myself, and I was so grateful for everyone who helped and treated me kindly when I was in need. I so appreciate the 911 dispatchers, jail guards, jail nurses, and police office secretaries in my training sessions, taking time out of their work week to learn how to care for those in crisis with understanding and knowledge.
The choices that police officers and dispatchers have to quickly make in time of crisis are not easy in the slightest, and yet, they have chosen these jobs because they want to help. It is so encouraging that many counties throughout the state of Wisconsin are taking the opportunity to be trained in handling mental health crisis, as it is so needed, and I feel content knowing that those who are experiencing crisis will be surrounded by teams of people who know what to do and how to help.
Written by Heather Ehnert, Communications & Advocacy Intern