Chandler Firefighters Learn To Ask Questions To Unravel Behavioral Health Crises

By Mariana Dale
Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 6:50am

Chandler firefighters are learning a new set of skills in the department’s first-ever behavioral health response training.

Battalion Chief Blas Minor said the “modern-day firefighter” responds to more medical calls than flames.

With that comes an increasing need to address mental health crises. 

“We kind of work in a rapid success,” 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.”

Responders need to recognize that someone who reports chest pains and trouble breathing may be having an anxiety attack.

The four-hours class teaches first responders to identify signs of various mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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

Vitalyst Health and Arizona Community Foundations funded the training with a a $125,000 grant.

Almost 200 people from Chandler, Maricopa and the Gila River Indian Community fire departments are participating.

The Department worked with Arizona State University to develop the training and will pilot eight and 16-hour versions of the course in the future.

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