Annotation: This nine-page document, published by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and Radiation Injury Treatment Network (RITN), provides information about a project to identify and understand the gaps that exist in public health, health care, and radiation control regarding outreach, training, and programmatic activities, and in turn create recommendations to address identified gaps. It provides a table of recommendations and the root causes of gaps that aligned to recommendations.
Summary of ACL (Administration for Community Living) Stakeholder Discussion: Opioid Public Health Emergency
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL)
Date Published: 3/7/2018
Annotation: This seven-page document summarizes a conference call that described the Administration for Community Living’s issue brief on the opioid public health emergency as part of a series of issue briefs that promote independent living in the community for older adults and people with disabilities. A table details the discussion themes, which included dual diagnosis, prevalence of opioid use, treatment strategies, and unintended consequences.
Annotation: This one-hour, 16-minute webinar discusses the ongoing public health impacts of the water crisis in the Flint community. Speakers explore the complex legal arrangements at the heart of the crisis, including public health, safe drinking water, and emergency manager laws; review recommended changes to the relevant laws and their implementation; and detail a community-level response to the crisis.
Advocates have long known people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have regular exchanges with police. And now awareness training is helping some RCMP officers better recognize and help those with autism.
In 2017, Lunenburg County RCMP in Nova Scotia received a spike in autism-related calls. Many officers’ questions went to now-retired Cst. Rod Francis. He has first-hand experience with autism because his teenage son lives with the condition.
“I’m very familiar with ASD and how to deal with it,” says Francis, who in late 2017 helped organize ASD training sessions for colleagues.
He saw the benefit of those efforts months later at a local school, where a colleague helped an autistic teenager.
“He just wasn’t getting his own way and he was upset,” says Francis, who added the officer was calm, gave the teen lots of space and was able to get him to sit at his own desk, which helped diffuse the situation.
First step is awareness
The training was also sparked by a lack of autism awareness.
“A lot of the time, as police officers, when we get a call, the information we get is that it’s a 13-year-old at home out of control. We may not be aware that they have ASD. As a result, we’re going in there with a high-risk assessment that doesn’t help,” says Francis.
A 2017 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and York University found that while almost half of interactions with police were calming, nearly one-third had the opposite outcome.
Yona Lunsky, who has extensively studied autism and co-authored the study, says police and other first responders need to recognize the challenges involved.
“There are so many autisms,” says Lunsky, a senior CAMH scientist.
ASD is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how those with autism communicate and relate to other people, and how they experience the world.
Lunsky says autism can, among other things, be severe or mild, it may be diagnosed very early on in life or it may not be diagnosed until adulthood. It may or may not be associated with an intellectual disability. As well, difficulties with social communication may be subtle or a person may not be able to verbally communicate at all.
Lunsky also notes autistic individuals are more likely to be victims of crime.
“So police have to be aware of that too and have the same sensitivities when supporting them,” she says.
In British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, RCMP S/Sgt. Major Stephen Blair Hurst has helped train hundreds of officers in ASD awareness with the support of the Pacific Autism Family Network.
“We discuss scenarios you may encounter and behaviours,” says Hurst, who describes a fictitious call for service involving a young man with ASD in a parkade who’s wearing a hoodie, carrying a backpack and looking into car windows.
He says when police arrive and identify themselves, the individual may ignore them. “The officers could interpret this as someone who may be attempting to break into vehicles or as a suspicious male who is avoiding contact with police,” he says.
But, he adds, the scene could also be a non-verbal male with ASD who has sensory issues.
“His communication style and ability may be one where he’s not comfortable making eye contact and he may be non-verbal,” says Hurst. “We don’t expect our members to make a diagnosis. But the more we know about ASD indicators and the behaviours, the better it’s going to be, and awareness is key.”
Lunsky, who holds a PhD in clinical psychology, says it’s essential police reach out to the autism community for solutions.
“It’s really important to get to know people to understand their autism and to know them when they’re not in crisis,” she says.
Lunsky says there’s always an opportunity for first responders to learn more about ASD.
“Every time people with autism have a bad experience, it affects how they deal with police the next time,” she says. “Even after there’s an encounter, police still have an opportunity to say: How can we do better? What support can we give you next time?”
The Minister for Health has thanked frontline workers for their dedication ahead of New Year’s celebrations.
Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said from police officers to hospital staff, hundreds of people have given up Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with their families to ensure Territorians can be safe this holiday season.
“Fire and Ambulance Crews and the staff at our six Territory hospital will also work around the clock to ensure Territorians can access the services they need.
“I want to thank the many Territorians who are giving up their celebrations to ensure Territorians can have a safe New Years,” she said.
Territory Health Professionals are on stand-by but say they hope Territorians won’t be spending their New Years in hospital.
RDH Director of Emergency Medicine, Dr Didier Palmer said every year around New Year’s we see even more patients attend our EDs with alcohol-related trauma.
“Broken limbs, broken faces, internal injuries and the psychological trauma which lasts long after physical healing.
“We see every day and more so over the New Year, the devastating impact this has on families and loved ones,” he said.
Operations Manager of St John Ambulance NT, Craig Garraway is urging Territorians to stay safe on the roads and while out and about over NYE.
“Over the festive season St John Ambulance paramedics see an increase in presentations from patients suffering from injuries and illnesses caused by the effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately far too often our paramedics are faced with aggression and abuse from those who are impacted by the effects of alcohol.
“Our paramedics are out there to do a job, to treat the injured, the sick and the suffering and it is important for paramedics to be able to do their job uninterrupted and in a safe environment.
“Look after each other, always call triple zero 000 in an emergency and remember that we are out there working to help you so please let us do our jobs safely.”
There are many activities across the Northern Territory over the holiday season to enjoy and Territorians are being urged to ensure they plan for a safe celebration.
Top End make the most of free buses running throughout the night on New Year’s Eve to ferry people to and from celebrations.