Pima adds mental health first aid training

By MIKI JENNINGS

 In the months since former Pima Community College student Jared Loughner was charged in Tucson’s infamous 2011 shootings, the college has implemented changes in the way administrators and police handle crises.

 PCC psychologist James Sanchez said things haven’t changed dramatically at the students’ eye level, but administrators are now more qualified to handle potentially dangerous situations.

 

 At least 150 college employees have taken threat assessment trainings with Sanchez and Joel Dvoskin, a senior psychologist with Threat Assessment Group, Inc.

 

 “He’s done some training with upper-level administrators and I’ve been taking on the trainings with him,” Sanchez said.

PCC Police Chief Stella Bay said some safety programs were already in place before the 2011 shootings. For example, the college had installed telephones in every classroom.

 

Additional systems, such as campus loudspeakers, were implemented after the shooting to help faculty and students get help in times of crisis, Bay added.

“It’s important to have multiple layers in any kind of emergency,” she said. “If you only have one notification process, if that goes down, you have no way of alerting people. We have a multiple-layer approach.”

In addition to the threat assessment trainings, PCC now offers Mental Health First Aid Certification courses to all PCC employees.

PCC is working with Community Partnership of Southern Arizona to offer the courses, which use a 12-hour training curriculum divided into four sessions.

“We are offering it in 3-hour segments to best accommodate people’s schedules,” counselor Amy Davis said.

Because employees have been very responsive and appreciative, Davis said she believes the training has better prepared the college for moments of crisis.

“I think this is at the forefront of people’s minds and we will continue to talk about these issues,” she said.

The trainings began on Jan. 24 and are scheduled through June.

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