Jesse English, Mitchell County Emergency Management
Job position - Director
Why small county law enforcement officers need clinical services, or better yet, embedded clinical services? Being in law enforcement and responding to traumatic events and emergencies anywhere is hard, it takes a physical and mental toll on officers and on their families. The issues working in smaller areas like Mitchell County makes it even harder. To begin, there are not many options for clinical services to choose from in rural areas. Second, clinical providers in rural areas may not be trained to provide services to meet the unique needs of law enforcement officers. These are two good reasons why having an embedded clinician is so important. One of the hardest things to do, especially in law enforcement, is to go to your Sheriff or Chief and say I am having trouble mentally for fear of misconceptions about the real problem. Embedded services allows for this step to be bypassed and can educate ranking officers about the importance of regular mental health care. Clinicians providing embedded services are specially trained to understand the unique needs of law enforcement officers. Most have backgrounds in emergency responder fields, where other professionals may not have that experience. Using the knowledge of being in law enforcement and combining the best therapy methods for law enforcement will ensure our officers are at their best while on and off duty. Embedded services will allow officers open access to highly trained professionals without having to jump through hoops to get the help they deserve and will keep smaller agencies working better to serve their communities. In the long run, this will save local governments thousands of dollars in high turnover rates, workman’s comp claims, and insurance premiums.
Van Duncan, Buncombe County (NC) Sheriff’s Office
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office has found that having embedded mental health has been of tremendous benefit. Law enforcement officers and first responders see tragedy on a regular basis. Even though it becomes part of their day-to-day job, the trauma they see impacts them the same as it does any other human being. Having Rick Baker’s services here gives our employees the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a mental health professional that they feel they know and can trust. Having those services here has certainly kept our employees emotionally healthy and resilient to the tragedies they face.
Nelda St. Clair, Bureau of Land Management, National Office FA-100
Position: National Critical Incident Stress Program Manager
Rick Baker is one of the few Mental Health Professionals selected by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior to provide clinical expertise for wildland fire and aviation personnel who have been involved in a critical incident. It has become progressively more important for wildland fire organizations and their personnel to develop effective methods through which to successfully integrate these experiences into the fabric of their lives. During times of tragedy and loss one cannot simply return from a fire assignment and walk away from the most profound events of human life without being changed somehow by the experience. Rick provides sophisticated expertise as a trauma professional and has remarkable ability to assist individuals during some of the most difficult times in their careers. Crisis intervention within the wildland fire service has evolved over the last decade. Rick has clearly demonstrated its effectiveness as a tool to reduce human distress. Perhaps one of his most renowned characteristics is advocacy that matters of significant psychological importance are always applied by trained, qualified specialists, including peer supporters under appropriate circumstances and established boundaries and standards of care. Regardless, Rick continues to achieve as a highly respected and well known crisis intervention clinician within the fire and aviation community. Rick has been mobilized for numerous critical incidents within the wildland fire community ranging from accidents, injuries, and fatalities to employee suicides. Rick always remains calm, maintains focus and brings organization to chaos during some of the most challenging situations.
Eric Martinez, USDA Forest Service, National Incident Management Organization
Position: National Critical Incident Stress Management Coordinator
I have had the pleasure of knowing Rick Baker for two years. During the years of our acquaintance, I have known Rick to go far beyond his responsibilities while assignments. Rick is one of the trauma clinicians I have used with responses to critical incidents within my agency and he has been instrumental in several successful responses. During this time I have been impressed with the flexibility and adaptability while on assignment. Rick continues to support our National Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program and provides quick response availability when needed. His impressive professionalism and empathy to those in need during crisis is of great value to the CISM community. During one assignment, Rick provided excellent insight and compassion to employees effected by hurricanes and quickly assessed the crisis, provided effective guidance that was effective to employees, leadership and family members. Rick is an intelligent, capable, dedicated, and personable clinician. He is always quick to respond, with sensible reactions in all the circumstances I've seen him in. I feel confident in saying that he is capable of handling any situation with thoughtfulness, empathy and professionalism.