City Times Staff
Firefighter/paramedic Benjamin Schultz (center right) helps Stevens Point Fire Assistant Chief Jeff Davis (left) work on simple word problems while Davis listens to auditory hallucinations during a mental health training event on July 20.
The exercise was designed to disorientate those undergoing it, which helped participants understand how to interact with citizens affected by various mental health problems. While listening to hallucinatory voices through the headphones, participants attempted to complete fifth-grade level math problems and simple story cognition — one of several different exercises throughout the day.
The activity was part of Wednesday’s crisis intervention training held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for local law enforcement, firefighters and municipal employees. Staff members from various city and county offices, along with correctional officers and deputies from the Portage Co. Jail, officers from Stevens Point and Plover police departments and local fire/EMS departments were in attendance.
Kristi Ahrens, mental health liaison officer from the Stevens Point Police Department, said the training is essential for anyone who deals with the general public in an official capacity.
“You just never know what someone else is going through,” Ahrens said. “This kind of training helps anyone who works with the public recognize certain signs of possible mental illness and adjust how they react accordingly.”