Session 4a: Resiliency: 5 Skills for First Responders (Part 1)

Dr. Michael Marks and his organization, the One Tree Learning Institute (OTLI), developed this evidence-based four-hour course after decades of providing direct care to veterans, first responders and medical professionals. Dr. Marks and Ms. Amy Devins met in 2018 and together envisioned formatting the curriculum so that it was less academic and more practical and digestible for our target audience - people in high risk professions. To reach a wider audience, we filmed video segments in keeping with that vision. The five resiliency skills we work on in the course are Belief, Strength, Trust, Persistence and Adaptability.

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This course uses associative learning and problem-based learning techniques and asks participants to work with either a partner or in small groups. For each of the five skills, the format is three segments: Participants are asked to think about a time in their life they used the skill, then they are asked to apply the skill to a current challenge, and finally they are asked to brainstorm key words or phrases for each skill. Throughout the course, participants are asked to write their responses then share with their partner or group.

Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, we facilitated this four-hour training in-person. In order to continue to provide this critical training during the pandemic, we have adapted to a Zoom format and for the 2021 ASU Winter Institute, we have condensed the material and broken it into two 75-minute sessions.

Presented by: Maria Stengel and Amy Devins, Arizona Complete Health

Maria Stengel is a retired detective with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Tucson, Arizona where she served for 21 years (1996-2017). Beginning in 2013, Ms. Stengel was part of an innovative team within the Sheriff’s Department - the Mental Health Support Team (MHST). MHST ensures that individuals with mental health challenges receive the necessary treatment and support through a collaborative effort with behavioral health professionals, law enforcement, jails, medical practitioners, judicial entities, and the public. As a member of the Association of Threat Professionals (ATAP) Maria used her training, experience and knowledge to quickly and effectively manage high profile individuals at risk of endangering the community.

Ms. Stengel specialized in several areas during her career: Child Forensic Interviewer, Crisis Negotiator, Peer Support, Honor Guard, General Instructor, Terrorism Liaison Officer and Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

In 2018 Maria became a National Trainer in Mental Health First Aid through the National Council for Behavioral Health. In this role, Ms. Stengel trains and certifies instructor candidates across the country in Mental Health First Aid. In 2018, Ms. Stengel was recognized by the National Council for Behavioral Health for instructing over 500 first responders in the Public Safety module – all in Southern Arizona.

In 2017, Ms. Stengel joined Arizona Complete Health-Complete Care Plan (AzCH-CCP) as a First Responder Liaison. In this role, Ms. Stengel continues to use her knowledge, experience and passion to collaboratively coordinate crisis services for first responder agencies in Southern Arizona. Additionally, Ms. Stengel has been instrumental in creating and instructing a Resiliency curriculum for first responders and their families. In 2019, AzCH-CCP’s First Responder Services team partnered with the One Tree Learning Institute to provide their “Resiliency: 5 Skills” course as a continuum of training for front-line workers to learn and practice coping skills to manage stress.

Amy Devins leads the First Responder Services team within the Crisis Services and Justices Services Division of Arizona Complete Health - Complete Care Plan, the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) in eight Southern Arizona counties. In this role, Ms. Devins and her staff are responsible for developing partnerships with first responder agencies to increase first responder confidence in, and usage of, crisis system alternatives to detention and emergency departments. With 15 years of experience as a detective and patrol officer in Colorado and Wyoming, Ms. Devins understands the need for robust crisis services ready to serve their communities. She is a proud University of Iowa alumna and a passionate advocate of emergency services peer support programs, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), Resiliency: 5 Skills training, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT).