Registration is now open for a training session Jan. 16 and 17 in DeKalb that will help first responders better identify and understand post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is one of the major factors that has made cases of first responder suicide outnumber all line-of-duty deaths in the U.S, according to a recent study by the Ruderman Family Foundation.
The session, hosted by the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association and Northern Illinois University, will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the DeKalb Police Department, 700 W. Lincoln Highway.
The free session primarily is intended for active and retired police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Those who wish to attend are asked to register at www.ippfa.org/education/education-events.
“The attempted suicide rate for first responders, such as police officers, is more than 10 times the rate of the general public,” IPPFA President James McNamee said. “First responders often have nowhere to turn when the trauma they deal with every day overwhelms them. This training program is a major step toward saving the lives of these everyday heroes, and I hope we can successfully expand it to all first responders in Illinois.”
The session in January will be conducted by a qualified mental health care professional with the assistance of experienced law enforcement officials. The program will cover such topics as PTSD symptoms; conditions that are often present with PTSD, including depression and substance abuse; how to identify ways to bolster resistance to PTSD; suicide; and effective PTSD treatments.
Registration will open in the coming weeks for sessions at the Edwardsville Police Department on Feb. 12 and 13, the Hoffman Estates Police Department on April 23 and 24 and the Naperville Police Department on June 4 and 5.
Northern Illinois University and the IPPFA used a $35,773 Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority grant to develop the program, and NIU has been awarded an additional $95,000 this year for more seminars and to develop additional program trainers.
If these initial programs are successful, funding may be available for up to three years of outreach and a program expansion to include firefighters and emergency medical services personnel.
The IPPFA initiated the idea for the program, provided information and support to NIU during the grant process and is funding some parts of the program that are not covered by the grant.