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AFR Introduces De-Escalation Training

Aurora Fire Rescue introduces de-escalation training for first responders
Posted on 11/13/2023
Photo of de-escalation scenario

All Aurora Fire Rescue crew members are completing the final phase of one of the fire service’s only de-escalation training programs this month. The training prepares first responders for diffusing emotional distress during emergency situations.

“Aurora Fire Rescue proactively developed and mandated this program for our members to best serve our community and continue to demonstrate leadership in the fire service,” said Aurora Fire Chief Alec Oughton. “When people or their loved ones are hurt or in harm’s way, emotions run high. This training provides guidance to our firefighters and medics for bringing a calming presence to crisis situations and using verbal techniques to ease tensions.”

Given that training of this kind is not commonly available in the fire service, AFR’s Medical Director, Dr. Eric Hill, developed the de-escalation training program for the department with Lisa LaDue, Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

“This program teaches our members the verbal and emotional skills to approach people in crisis,” said Dr. Hill. “Being able to successfully de-escalate a patient verbally allows for a safer situation for our patients and our members on scenes.”

The training comprises three modules that include two video-based classes which teach mindfulness, self-awareness and sensitivity for first responders, as well as body positioning, voice modulation and other practices to sooth individuals experiencing anxiety, stress and psychological trauma. AFR members are currently completing the third module, which presents hands-on practical exercises to apply what they have learned through scenarios based on actual AFR calls, such as a war veteran experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or a suicidal individual.

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