May 14, 2012 - The Californian
There are heroes walking among us, and the American Red Cross Monterey Bay Area Chapter has identified nine of them.
The Red Cross will honor them May 19 at its annual Heroes Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey.
For more than 10 years, the Red Cross has recognized acts of heroism by local residents for life-saving deeds. A substantial story could be written on each one of the nine honorees, but we'll focus on four who are from Salinas.
Help for emergency responders
Another honoree who deals with stressful emergencies is Devon Corpus, who will receive the Medical Professional Hero award. She is a crisis supervisor for Monterey County, working for Behavior Health at Natividad Medical Center.
Corpus is a licensed clinical social worker who co-coordinates crisis intervention training (CIT) for first responders. She may wind up at the scene of a hostage crisis or a case where police are confronted by a person with a mental illness. Or she may help debrief law enforcement personnel who have witnessed a disturbing incident, called critical incident stress management.
That was the case recently when a child was accidentally run over and killed by a relative in Salinas.
"These first responders see things every day and don't want to take it home with them," Corpus said. "We don't want folks to go home and have nightmares."
This working relationship between emergency services and Behavioral Health helps first responders calm down and unwind after a crisis situation.
"It's very humbling to respond to the (emergency) community when they're in crisis," Corpus said. "To allow them to talk about a really horrible scene that they went to. ... When first responders are healthy, the community is better."
It's important, she said, that these debriefings occur before a first responder's shift ends. She and others in her department will work with a CIT trained officer during a debriefing. If the incident is particularly traumatic, the debriefings are held up to 72 hours afterward, she said.
Corpus, is the mother of three and an Army veteran (she was a linguist) who formerly worked at Salinas Valley State Prison's Department of Mental Health. The Lewiston, Idaho, native has compassion for those in law enforcement. Her father was a Vietnam veteran and police officer and her sister is an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent.
"I love working for this county because they've allowed all these ideas and teams to come to fruition ...," Corpus said. "They've been extremely supportive of this relationship between law enforcement and Behavioral Health."
If an officer in the field has a question about a person's mental state, they can call Corpus or one of her co-workers 24/7 to run the information by them, thus avoiding an injury to the officer or the other party. "They trust us," Corpus said. "They don't think we're going to be bleeding hearts and hug all the bad guys."
Corpus and her co-workers train with the county's hostage negotiation and SWAT teams and one of them accompanies the teams when they respond to an incident.
"It's great stuff these teams are doing together," she said. "All the people that I work with are the heroes every day. They're the ones out there."
Read the entire article on The Californian's website