What is SECURE?
SECURE (Skills and Experience for Calling Up Resiliency) is a new peer mentorship program for Vermont first responders. Selected applicants will receive education and training to assist their departments in achieving wellness goals, building resiliency, and assisting first responders who may be in crisis. Participating peer mentors will work with licensed clinical health professionals to form a statewide support network that can be used and deployed in the event of a traumatic incident or mental health crisis.
This program is made possible through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Office, and
Invest EAP/Centers for Wellbeing.
This short video explains the SECURE Peer program.
How does SECURE work?
SECURE peers are trained to assist first responders in need of mental health and wellness services. A SECURE peer will
be trained to assist other first responders in crisis and connect individuals to any necessary follow-up services. SECURE peers will also be trained in preventative, resiliency-building strategies that can be shared and employed in departments throughout the state.
Selected peers will also work to build wellness goals and strategies for their own departments by participating in the creation of a first responder wellness toolkit. A SECURE hub will be established in each of five regions in Vermont, and each hub will be composed of 10 spoke departments surrounding the regional hub. The five regional hubs are
hosted by the following departments:
• Northwest: Williston Fire Department
• Northeast: Orleans County Sheriff’s
• Central: Lamoille County Sheriff’s
• Southwest: Bennington Police Department
• Southeast: Springfield Police Department
What Kind of Training Will
SECURE Peers Receive?
Peers participating in the SECURE program will receive evidence-based training in providing immediate psychological assistance to first responders in crisis and in facilitating group debriefings in the aftermath of a critical incident.
Educational curriculum will also focus on wellness objectives that increase psychological resiliency, such as sleep hygiene, proper nutrition, and physical exercise. A Vermont licensed counselor will facilitate the meetings and also assist in identifying local resources, establishing response and deployment infrastructure, and compiling policy goals into a Vermont SECURE Toolkit.
What Does a SECURE
The primary objective of the SECURE peer mentor is stress reduction for Vermont first responders in the form of immediate emotional first aid and support. The SECURE peer mentor assists other first responders as they work through the impact of critical incidents by supporting, actively listening, and providing resources. SECURE peer mentors help their fellow officers who are involved in critical incidents, to understand the range of normal reactions to abnormal situations.
SECURE peer mentor responsibilities include:
• Conveying trust, anonymity, and assuring confidentiality within guidelines to the first responder seeking assistance from the mentor • Providing assistance and support on a voluntary basis • Assisting first responders by referring them to the appropriate outside resource when necessary • Being available to the individual for additional follow up support • Maintaining contact with the clinical coordinator regarding SECURE program activities • Attending the SECURE peer training sessions
Why is SECURE Needed?
First responders and emergency services workers have inherently dangerous jobs and face a greater risk of mental and physical injury than the general public. The demanding nature of these jobs—and the compounding exposure to stress—can have negative effects on first responders’ work, health, and relationships. SECURE provides a safety net of training that peer participants can use to establish and improve their own respective department wellness programs and to work together as a cohesive group, providing assistance to any first responder or department in need.