First responders receive substance abuse trauma-informed training

Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Trauma Response Care training aims to teach community members a better understanding of the connection between trauma and substance use.

Licensed counselor and trauma specialist Decca Knight has led the training in the valley for years.

“Because of the trauma that they’ve been through, they do something called ritualized comfort-seeking,” explained Knight. “And ritualized comfort-seeking is trying to find comfort so that you can feel, quote unquote, normal, right, you can calm down your nervous system, you can calm down your brain and your body.”

For the first time, Knight was able to give the training to first responders at the Salem Fire-EMS Department.

“I think we want people to know that we want to help them, we want to see people get the help that they need and I think this can help us by getting a better understanding of where they’re coming from. So, we can better empathize,” said Firefighter and EMT Keith Morgan.

During the training, front-line workers learned how adverse childhood experiences can drive someone to develop an addiction to drugs.

“And I think it’s a very powerful point that they just made, was not always asking what’s wrong, but what’s happened. Asking that question and getting them to relate,” added Senior Firefighter Blake Duncan.

Knight says the training is important because it helps people have compassion for behaviors they may not understand.

“We try to really help people refrain from how they see the world, like, what’s wrong with that person, why do they keep doing this? Why do I have to keep being called to their house,” explained Knight. “So, what’s wrong with you to what happened to you.”

The training is a partnership between Connected Community Consulting and the Virginia Department of Health.