Caring and crisis hotline Caring Contact has introduced stress management and active listening training for rescue squads and other first responders. Caring Contact held its first training session last evening at the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad.

The two-hour program comprises the Power of Listening; How to Listen vs. Give Advice; Empathy; Helping The Person in Need Catch Your Calm; Suicide Intervention; and the Importance of Self-Care for first responders.

"Our new training for rescue squads is designed to provide hands-on skills for first responders to help individuals in emotional distress," said Arlene Klemow, Caring Contact training director. "They already have the medical skills to treat someone's injury but they may not be equipped to help someone emotionally. This training provides them with those skills."

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Also important is training first responders to take care of themselves, Klemow added.

"We teach them self-care behaviors of how to protect themselves from the stress of their work," she said.

Peggy Dendinger, who has been a member of the Berkeley Height Volunteer Rescue Squad for 15 years,

Was one of 22 squad members who attended last evening's training.

"I thought the training was excellent," she said. "It will help me in my work on the rescue squad. Often I am so involved in what I am doing that I forget to listen to something as simple as remembering someone’s name. I learned some good skills to help reduce the patient's stress and my own, as well."

Added Joe Plocinski, who has been on the squad five years, ”The need for self-care was emphasized throughout the whole presentation and that is so important for all the work that we do. I learned techniques that will help me be a better listener on a call. I think this will also be beneficial in supporting each other." 

The training was designed in response to specific needs identified by the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad but can be customized for other first responder groups, including other rescue squads and fire and police departments, Klemow said.

The current cost for the training is $150. To learn more or to arrange for training, contact Joanne Oppelt, Caring Contact executive director, at 908.301.1899 or joanne.oppelt@caringcontact.org.

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed crisis hotline and listening community providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 200 volunteer listeners attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress, answering more than 15,000 calls per year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely. Caring Contact also educates communities about the power of personal connection.

If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call them at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener should visit http://caringcontact.org/give-support/volunteer/.

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. The hotline also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

About Caring Contact

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. We attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress and educate our communities about the power of personal connection. We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org