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A first of its kind training in Humboldt County took place last week in Eureka, providing local law enforcement agencies the opportunity to develop resilience and wellness skills in the face of a sometimes stressful and traumatic career.
“For so long wellness has been overlooked in law enforcement and seen as a weakness,” Course Instructor Jen Wallace, CMF, said. “There are a lot of statistics that aren’t in our favor. But if we can take better care of ourselves and each other, maybe we can improve on those statistics.”
Forty-four emergency responders participated in the training on November 21 and 22, 2019, including representatives from: Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County Juvenile Hall and Probation, Eureka Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Arcata Police Department, California State Parks, HSU Police Department, Fortuna Police Department and Yurok Tribal Police Department. The training was offered for free by the Sheriff’s Office to local agency participants.
Throughout the training, instructors Heidi Bourne and Jen Wallace of Pacific Mindfulness emphasized mindfulness-based strategies designed to increase self-awareness, self-regulation and situational awareness contextualized for officer sustainability, safety and survival. Participants learned about neurobiology and physiology of stress and trauma, acquiring tools and resources to mitigate the physical, mental and social consequences from their law enforcement roles.
“As first responders, we deal with people every day who are having one of the worst days of their lives. It is impossible to not have their experiences affect us in some way,” Correctional Sergeant and Course Organizer Delia Garcia said. “This training helps us process everything that we see, do and bear witness to. By appropriately processing these experiences, we are able to maintain personal wellness, which then allows us to better serve the community.”
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office continues to explore innovative training opportunities to enhance our ability to serve and protect our local communities.