Getting through the grind

     The Law Enforcement / Firefighter / Paramedic Course curriculum provides a unique approach which is specific to law enforcement, fire, corrections, and emergency medical personnel.  What makes this curriculum different is how it was created: using Sociological theories with the personas of First Responders in order to create a significant knowledge transfer.  Our staff utilized Social Field theory to dissect the stressors surrounding officers into four categories: 1) Organizational Stress, 2) Occupational Stress, 3) Societal (External) Stress, and 4) Individual (Internal) Stress.  Each category has subsections, such as Post or Secondary traumatic events, family life, career advancement, etc.,  which have been identified and labeled as either a "Relevant" or "Irrelevant" stressors.  Knowing 65-70 percent of the stressors are considered "Irrelevant", meaning the student is stressing about something he/she cannot change, or affect, our curriculum teaches the officer empirically tested techniques for eliminating a majority of  "Irrelevant" stressors.  For "Relevant" stressors, meaning the officer can influence change, we again provide both short and long-term empirically tested methods for addressing the stress and managing the symptoms on mental and physiological fronts.  Using Social Field theory, the curriculum allows for a visualized connection between the stressors and how negating the built up stress can lead to alcohol/substance abuse, anger issues, and other negative life events.  What is additionally unique about this curriculum is the delivery.  


     In order to effectively provide the knowledge transfer needed to create a behavioral change in the participants, we implement what is known as Symbolic Interactionism.  This Sociological theory explains how providing individuals with a significant interaction (i.e., the T-6 training course), buy-in and knowledge transfer increases dramatically, leading to the desired behavioral change.  Built in to the curriculum are multiple symbolic interactions specifically designed for law enforcement personnel and include: 1) Being created and instructed by current and former law enforcement officers & firemedics who have personal experience with significant stressors, 2) Have team and rapport building exercises such as, hiking, meditation, fly-fishing, horse-back riding, and social gatherings from local first responder support groups, and 3) conducted at a secluded campground in the Hyalite Canyon part of the Gallatin National Forest located on a lake in the Rocky Mountains.  With the instructors re-instilling an officer's key foundations of Knowledge, Discipline, and Spirit, students will be re-invigorated, have an amenable rapport, and eliminate any preconceived notion of previous negative experience with stress management training.  


     The location and practical activities included in the curriculum are specifically intended, as they are among majestic views of waterfalls, snow topped mountains, wildlife, and a lakeside view, to provide immediate stress reduction, which will allow students to achieve homeostasis both on a mental and physiological level.  The return to homeostasis will not only showcase the effectiveness of the tactics provided in the curriculum, but it will actually allow the students to realize what they need to achieve as part of the sustainable, long-term care.  It is this final Symbolic Interaction which assists in changing the behavior of the participants to assist them in continuing to use the education provided after they return to their respective occupations.  The biggest difference in this curriculum, and the few which have begun addressing stress in First Responder occupations, is T-6's program is completely designed by First Responders who have walked-the-walk, unlike others which are mostly designed and taught by mental health providers which are often unsuccessful.  We serve all our brothers and sisters in the First Responder field, to include: Dispatchers, Police, Firefighters, Paramedic/EMT's, Corrections Officers, and family members.