Veteran Mental Health Forum at Baystate Medical Center | Connecting Point | Nov. 4, 2019


BAYSTATE MEDICAL CENTER IS
HOSTING A FORUM ON FIRST RESPONSE FOR VETERANS AND
CRISIS. THE COURSE IS DESIGNED
FOR EMS, FIRST RESPONDERS, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS AMONG
OTHERS. CAROLEE MCGRATH SAT DOWN WITH
DAVID SUTTON FROM THE ONE CALL AWAY FOUNDATION AND IDA
KONDERWITZ, A REGISTERED NURSE AND INJURY PREVENTION
COORDINATOR AT BAYSTATE MEDICAL CENTER TO FIND OUT MORE. SHOW CLOSE TH THAT DOES IT FOR
>>I WAS APPROACHED BY CINDY FOSTER WHO’S A PARAMEDIC FOR AMR
AMBULANCE AND SHE HAD SOME CONCERNS SHE WAS SEEING AN
UPTICK OF VETERANS IN CRISIS, AND WHAT SHE WANTED ME TO HELP
HER WITH WAS PUT TOGETHER A PROGRAM SO THAT THE FIRST
RESPONDERS CAN BECOME EDUCATED ON HOW TO HANDLE VETERANS IN
CRISIS.>>OKAY. AND NOW YOU’RE ALSO A NURSE AND
YOU WORKED IN THE ER FOR MANY YEARS. AND, OBVIOUSLY, YOU’VE CARED FOR
VETERANS WHEN THEY’VE COME IN FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.>>YES, I CARED FOR VETERANS IN
CRISIS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM FOR MANY YEARS AND OUR MAIN THEME
THERE IS TO KEEP THEM SAFE AND TO KEEP THEM SAFE.>>WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOPICS
THAT ARE GOING TO BE COVERED TOMORROW TO HELP FIRST
RESPONDERS OR HELP ER DOCTORS, YOU KNOW, BE BETTER INFORMED?>>WE BROUGHT FOLKS TOGETHER AND
THEY DECIDED THAT WE NEEDED TO HAVE FOLKS THAT WERE FIRST
RESPONDERS SPEAK ABOUT WHAT — THAT WERE VETERANS AND HOW THEY
APPROACH A VETERAN IN CRISIS. WE HAVE PSYCHOLOGISTS THAT ARE
GOING TO BE SPEAKING ABOUT HOW TO APPROACH A VETERAN IN CRISIS. WE HAVE SOMEONE TO COME IN AND
TALK ABOUT THE BATTLE MIND AND HOW THEIR MIND WAS WHEN THEY
WERE IN SERVICE AND WHEN THEY’RE HOME HOW TO REINTEGRATE TINTO
THEM INTO OUR NORMAL WORLD AND WE JUST ASK CAMPAIGN AND A FEW
OTHER SPEAKERS THAT WE’VE AND IT’S GOING TO BE PROVIDING
EDUCATION TO OUR FIRST RESPONDERS. WE HAVE POLICE OFFICERS THAT ARE
ATTENDING, SOME FIREFIGHTERS THAT ARE ATTENDING. WE HAVE SOCIAL WORKERS AND
PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND EMERGENCY ROOM PERSONNEL THAT ARE GOING TO
BE ATTENDING OUR CONFERENCE.>>SO DAVID, ONE CALL AWAY IS
ONE OF THE PARTNERS THAT BROUGHT THIS TOGETHER. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT FIRST OF
ALL ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION AND WHAT YOU DO.>>ONE CALL AWAY IS PTSD SUPPORT
AND WE HAVE A PTSD SUPPORT NETWORK AND WE ALSO ARE AT THE
AID AND PREVENTION OF SUICIDE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE DO —
WE HAVE ALL KINDS OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT WE WORK WITH
AND RECOMMEND AND TRAIN WITH AND SO WHEN WE INTO A VETERAN
LOOKING FOR A HIGH-LEVEL OF CARE THAT THEY COULDN’T GET IT AND IF
SOMEONE IS HAVING AN ISSUE WE’LL BE CALLED IN AS PEER SUPPORT. SOMEBODY TO TALK TO. IF THEY HAVE — IF THEY WANT
JUST TO GET THINGS OFF THAT I SHALL CHEST.>>AND SO THAT’S WHAT YOUR
DISTORTION.>>YEP.>>WHEN YOU’RE HELPING PEOPLE
UNDERSTAND HOW THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH AND PERHAPS EVEN THE
BEST LANGUAGE AND BODY LANGUAGE TO USE WITH A VETERAN WHO MIGHT
BE IN CRISIS, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT, YOU KNOW, TO MAYBE TO THE
LAYPERSON WHO’S NOT FAMILIAR WITH WHAT THEY’VE SEEN? I MEAN, WE CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE.>>I CAN GIVE YOU A CIRCUMSTANCE
THAT HAPPENED THAT REALLY GIVES YOU AN UNDERSTANDING. A WHILE BACK A FAMILY MEMBER
ASKED ME TO GO BE WITH THEIR SON AND HE WAS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM
AND WHEN I FIRST GOT THERE HE WAS IN THE ROOM AND WAS BACKED
INTO A CORNER. I COULD TELL BY THE LOOK ON HIS
FACE THAT THE NURSE THAT WAS THERE AND ONE OF THE ORDERLIES
WAS THERE THE CLOSER THEY GOT TO HIM THE FURTHER HE BACKED UP AND
FINALLY HE GOT TO THE DEEPEST CORNER AND THAT ARE TRYING TO I
SAID, EXCUSE ME, WHEN THEY WALKED IN THE DOOR I SAID STOP,
YOU GUYS NEED TO LEAVE. JUST STEP OUT OF THE ROOM FOR A
LITTLE BIT AND LET ME HAVE A CHEST BECAUSE THEY WERE PUTTING
HIM ON DEFENSE AND HE WAS GOING IN FIGHT OR FLIGHT. AND HE JUST NEEDED SOMEBODY TO
LET HIM KNOW HE WAS OKAY RIGHT THERE AND THEN AND I WALKED IN
THE ROOM AND I BASICALLY ASKED HIM TO STAND DOWN.>>AND THAT WAS A QUICK
DE-ESCALATION TECHNIQUE.>>YEP.>>THAT YOU WOULD KNOW HOW TO
USE BUT PERHAPS SOMEBODY ELSE WHO’S PULLING SOMEBODY OVER, YOU
KNOW, MAYBE TRAFFIC VIOLATION, DIDN’T PUT A BLINK ON WOULD NOT
KNOW — BLINKER ON WOULDN’T KNOW THAT.>>I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS ONE
CALL AWAY EXISTED BEFORE I STARTED SO I GOT MYSELF QUITE AN
INDICATION IN THIS FIELD OF VETERANS IN CRISIS, AND I’M SO
GLAD THAT THAT’S THERE AND WE WANT TO SPREAD OUR ROOM TO ALL
THE EMERGENCY ROOMS BECAUSE BAYSTATE HEALTH IS ACROSS
WESTERN MASS AND, YOU KNOW, TO OUR FIRST RESPONDERS THAT THERE
IS SOMEBODY YOU CAN CALL TO HELP YOU FIGURE IT OUT.
>>AND ALSO DAVID, YOUR SON SERVED TWO TOURS IN IRAQ.>>YES, MY OLDEST SON SERVED TWO
TOURS IN IRAQ AND HE WAS SHOT TWICE AND THAT LED TO — ONE OF
THE THINGS HE GOT ADDICTED TOT PAINKILLERS HE WAS ON. HE HAD VIOLENT OUTBURSTS AND
ANGER ISSUES AND HIM AND I HAD A LOT OF TIMES TALKING. HE WAS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I
STARTED ONE CALL AWAY. HE WAS SUICIDAL AND HE WAS
HURTING AND HE JUST NEEDED SOMEBODY TO TALK WITH. I DID TOO MANY VETERAN SUICIDE
FUNERALS AND I THOUGHT ABOUT MY SON. I THOUGHT ABOUT MY LIFE WHERE I
HAVES AT A CERTAIN TIME AND SAID THERE’S SOMETHING WE GOT TO DO,
AND AND NOW WE’VE BEEN AROUND FOR 3 YEARS, I’VE HAD
CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS THAT BROUGHT ME TOGETHER WITH SOME
INDIVIDUALS THAT I WAS ABLE TO USE MY PAST EXPERIENCES JUST
WITH THE THINGS I’VE BEEN THROUGH.>>AND THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE YOU
HAVE FROM DIFFERENT GROUPS LIKE FIRST RESPONDERS, MEDICAL
PROFESSIONALS ONE CALL AWAY, YOU’RE BRINGING MANY DIFFERENT
PEOPLE TOGETHER AND ADDRESSING THE FACT YOU HAD MEN AND WOMEN
WHO HAVE BEEN IN COMBAT WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE, LIKE, EVERYTHING
IS NORMAL JUST COMING HOME.>>IT’S NOT JUST COMBAT BECAUSE
YOU HAVE COMBAT ROLES. FORTUNATERY AND OTHER THINGS
ALONG THOSE LINES BUT YOU HAVE A LOT OF SUPPORT STRUCTURE IN THE
MILITARY THAT WERE PUT IN HARM’S WAY AND HAD TO DEALT WITH, THEY
WEREN’T REALLY ABLE TO HANDLE. YOU HAVE FOLKS WORKING IN
LOGISTICAL UNITS AND GOODS THAT HAVE TO GET TO THE FRONT LINE,
DEALING WITH IEDS AND DEALING WITH FRIENDS BEING KILLED AND
BEING AWAY FROM HOME. THERE’S A LOT MORE THAN JUST A
COMBAT SITUATION. EVEN THOUGH THAT’S THE BIGGIE
BUT ALSO THERE’S A LOT OF THINGS THAT THEY BRING BACK WITH THEM. THEY BRING BACK THE GUILT WITH
THEM THAT CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY.

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