LUBBOCK, TX — World Mental Heath Day is this Sunday, October 10th, and on Friday morning, Lubbock first responders shared ways to support your loved ones amidst emergency situations and elevated mental states.
In high-stress, life and death situations, your body’s natural fight, flight and freeze reactions kick into gear. Rational responses often go out the window, according to Lubbock Fire Rescue.
Phillip Grandon, captain for Lubbock Fire Rescue, said he can recognize when someone’s body shuts down, and knows that as his cue to step in and offer assistance. He described the freeze response as someone who is stuck in a house fire, with a seemingly obvious escape route, yet they stand still and remain in that dangerous situation.
“Safety is right there and they can see it, but for whatever reason, their brain has basically overloaded their body to be able to react to it,” Grandon said about the freeze response.
There are other cues to watch out for too, he said. Body language is an important signal.
“Does this person appear calm or normal? Can I have a conversation with this person? We read those and we can kind of tell, okay, something’s wrong with this person,” said Grandon.
Andrew Abbott, a public safety dispatcher with Lubbock Police Department said, “It can be difficult since we’re not physically there with them. We’re not on scene. There’s only so much we can do.”
Despite this, dispatchers read cues too, according to LPD Dispatch.
“We also have to pay attention to what’s going on in the backroom background of the call, because it can be people fighting and the person may not be able to actually tell us what’s going on,” Abbott said.
Abbott told KLBK News that when someone is unable to thoughtfully explain what’s happening, or if they are in a situation where they can’t speak, like a home burglary when the resident is home, he asks questions that can be followed with one-word answers.
Listening, paying attention to your surroundings, asking questions and meeting someone exactly where they are, are all things people can do to help themselves and their loved ones through what feels like an impossible situation, both Grandon and Abbott summarized.
For general information on mental health, visit Mental Health America’s website.