County to Offer Mental Health Training for First Responders

County to Offer Mental Health Training
for First Responders

Poughkeepsie… It is estimated that 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions due to the challenging, dangerous, and traumatic situations they encounter in their service. To ensure the mental wellness of local first responders and help them in their tireless efforts to serve, Dutchess County Departments of Emergency Response (DER) and Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) are hosting a free Mental Health Training for First Responders on Saturday, March 23rd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Department of Emergency Response campus located at 392 Creek Road, Poughkeepsie. The training is open to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and security guards to learn essential mental health resources for themselves as well as those they serve. Registration is required and is available online at
first responder

County Executive Sue Serino said, “Protecting the mental health of our first responders is vital. These dedicated men and women are out there protecting our community and deserve our respect and assistance to ensure they have the tools and resources to handle the stresses of their roles. I hope through this training, our first responders find support and a sense of camaraderie as they learn ways to not only enhance their ability to do their jobs effectively and compassionately, but also how to best protect their own mental wellbeing.”

The training will feature speakers from both departments covering topics such as:

• The Brain and Addiction. The science behind addiction and its impact on the brain as well as conversation to break the stigma behind mental health. Individuals with lived experience of struggling with mental health and substance abuse will share their stories.

• Improving Response. A mental health overview including signs someone may be in distress. Attendees will learn response strategies such as patient advocacy, motivational interviewing, and the benefits of “leave behind kits” that include harm reduction supplies.

• First Responder Resilience. Tools to help first responders advocate for their own mental wellbeing, suicide prevention, and available health resources for responders.

• Available Mental Health Resources. Overview of the County’s mental health resources including Dutchess County’s 988 HELPLINE, substance use recovery coaches, mobile crisis team, and more.

The lecture portion of the training will conclude with a question-and-answer period that will allow time for attendees to have an open dialogue with speakers. County mental health staff and community partners will also provide tabling to give first responders information on resources before and after the training.

DBCH Deputy Commissioner Jean-Marie Niebuhr said, “The statics don’t tell the full story of what first responders face. Every person who serves on the frontlines is impacted by what they’ve seen each day and is so important these individuals be cognizant of the toll it can take and the strategies they can use to protect and enhance their mental wellness. We’re grateful to partner with Emergency Response Commissioner Dana Smith and his team to provide this training. By giving first responders the tools and strategies necessary to effectively deal with this complex topic, we can have a real impact on improving the quality of life for these dedicated individuals as well as the people they serve.”

As Emergency Medical Services (EMS) gains national and local attention with personnel shortages causing increasing response times and gaps in coverage, these already high-stress positions become exponentially more stressful with both paid and volunteer personnel facing mental burn-out and other mental health challenges. Dutchess County is prioritizing EMS Solutions through a multi-faceted effort to support local agencies. This training supports this effort by build mental health resiliency among first responders, including EMS personnel.

Dutchess County offers a wide range of mental health resources. To learn more, visit To learn more about Emergency Response trainings, visit


Author: Harlem Valley News