Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office to host A Night Out for First Responders
EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office is hosting “A Night Out For First Responders,” at the Keweenaw County Courthouse, in Eagle River, on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m.
The event is for all local fire, EMS, law enforcement and first responders to gather to further the relationships between agencies that are often on the same scene together.
The event will include a special guest, David Woods Bartley, who is a suicide prevention speaker, and whose favorite motto is “Sometimes the most can’t be seen, and sometimes what helps the most easy to do.”
A Night Out For First Responders was organized as an extension of a presentation on mental health held in May 2021, at the Keweenaw County Court House. The presentation stemmed from a social media post on the page of the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office in response to a young individual having had attempted suicide in the county during the first week of May.
Just one of Sheriff Curt Pennala’s goals for the presentation was to help the public reach a clearer understanding of mental health, to begin the elimination of the social stigma regarding mental illness and those who want or need professional help, but are afraid to seek it. The panel met to discuss mental health services available, as well as what is missing.
Michelle Morgan, former medical director at Copper Country Mental Health (now retired), was the key speaker at the event, and she said she became involved in the event after she read the social media post.
“People over and over and over again were saying we need to talk about this and we need to have a discussion, we need to have a conversation,” she said at the May event, “and my thought was, okay. Let’s do that.”
A Night Out For First Responders is a continuation of the conversation. She was integral to the organization of the event.
Quite often, as in the case of Pennala’s experience of early May, first responders are often the first people to arrive on the scene of an attempted suicide, and it is of vital importance for them to be able to connect with each other, which is why he is so happy that Bartley will be speaking to first responders Tuesday evening.
“He speaks on suicide prevention. He tells a touching story how the power of connection saved his life,” said Pennala.
Pennala said that Bartley tells of an event in his life in which he connected with a first responder in his area. The connection became a relationship, which evolved into a friendship that saved Bartley’s life.
Currently, Bartley is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the International Association for Youth Mental Health, the National Storytelling Network’s Healing Story Alliance, and Active Minds.
He holds certifications in Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Youth, SafeTALK (Suicide Awareness for Everyone), and is a national trainer for the groundbreaking suicide prevention technique known as QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer).
He has been invited to speak before a wide range of domestic and international audiences, giving keynote speeches and leading workshops on a variety of aspects of mental health, including suicide awareness and prevention, the power of connection to create hope, and the use of language as a tool for healing.
The event is open to all fire fighters, EMS, law enforcement, and first responders throughout Keweenaw, Houghton, Baraga and Ontonagon counties. Admission is free for the event.