On Wednesday, more than a dozen Greenville City Dispatchers received Crisis Intervention Team training through the National Alliance on Mental Illness at the Greenville City Police Range.
The training was started in 1988 by a Memphis police officer who thought there was a better way for law enforcement to deal with people going through a mental health crisis.
During the two-hour course, dispatchers learned about the different types of mental illnesses and how to approach someone going through a mental health crisis. Dispatchers say the training is important because they get mental health calls daily.
“It’s a resource we can give those that are in need, rather than transferring them or switching them, and they leave feeling hopeless,” Greenville City Dispatcher Darlene Holbrooks said.
NAMI also brings in families who’ve dealt with loved ones who suffer from mental illness to help first responders better understand the need for the training.
Donna Breimann/NAMI State CIT Coordinator
“It puts a human face to mental illness, and that’s extremely important,” said Donna Breimann, the NAMI Senior State CIT Coordinator.
The Terry family spoke at the training Wednesday. Lynn Terry told the dispatchers about her son, Brian, who suffered from Bipolar Disorder for years. Terry says the illness eventually led Brian to take his life.
“He didn’t want to die,” Terry said. “I know that boy. He just wanted to kill his illness.”
Breimann says she does the training to help ensure the safety of everyone involved, from officers, to the public, and especially the people living with the disease.
“Our ultimate hope is to save them, to prevent them from that inside terror,” Holbrooks said.
NAMI is holding 32 five-day classes for officers this year. They are also having several two-hour classes in between.