Training for new Road to Mental Readiness program underway

Expert instructors from the Mental Health Commission of Canada are in the city this week to provide Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) training to members of the Police Service, Fire Department/EMS and Public Safety Communications Centre in the first joint class of its kind in Canada.

The class of 24 includes sworn and non-sworn participants from LPS as well as Lethbridge Fire/EMS, dispatchers from the PSCC, a police officer from Camrose, Fire/EMS from Golden and Elkford as well as City of Lethbridge Human Resources, Risk Management and the Employee Resource Centre. Upon completing the five-day “train-the-trainer” course participants will be equipped to provide R2MR training to other members of their respective agencies.

R2MR is based on a program initially developed by the Department of National Defence and has been adapted for law enforcement/first responders to reduce the stigma of mental illness, increase awareness of mental health, offer resources to maintain positive mental health and increase resiliency. The program helps employees by creating a supportive environment, strengthening organizational culture and contributing to a healthy workplace.

“The Police Service recognizes the health and well-being of our employees is paramount and we are committed to ensuring there are appropriate resources in place to support all staff with the challenges they face as first responders,” said Insp. Jason Dobirstein, who oversees the Support Services Section and has managed the development of the LPS Employee Wellness Program.

R2MR is the second phase of the Service’s Employee Wellness Program that was initiated last year with the hiring of registered psychologist, Dr. Kerry Bernes, who provides support to police officers and non-sworn staff in the immediate aftermath of an officer-involved shooting or other traumatic events, and assists incident commanders and crisis negotiators during critical incidents.

R2MR training for the rest of LPS, including non-sworn staff, will take place in the coming months.

**Insp. Dobirstein is available for media interviews today at 1 p.m. at the police station. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews**