STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls Area EMS personnel know how to handle injuries to children from minor to catastrophic, but sometimes care goes beyond the youths’ immediate physical needs.
The Phoenix Center of Marble Falls held a trauma-informed care training in May to help EMS crews understand the signs of childhood trauma as well as develop the tools and strategies needed to work with children and families in emergency situations.
Marble Falls Area EMS Operations Director Kevin Naumann became aware of this innovative program in November when Phoenix Center executive director Sarah Garrett gave to the Marble Falls Independent School District board, of which Naumann is a member, an overview on the training her staff provides to MFISD teachers.
“We need to know this stuff, too,” Naumann said in regard to the training for EMS crews. “Teachers see the signs and symptoms of someone going through (traumatic events). I thought it would be valuable for our folks as well.”
Phoenix Center program director Lindsey Humphrey Crelia led two training sessions, May 22 and 24, for EMS staff.
Naumann said Crelia’s explanation of the development phases of the brain is what stood out to him. Research shows that trauma can negatively affect brain development, which impacts how a child can learn, grow, and connect with others, according to reports. Children who have experienced trauma are at greater risk of developing at-risk behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, poor grades, suicide, and depression.
“The way the brain develops definitely was pretty interesting to me,” Naumann said. “Those brain connections are formed from the very start.”
The training also helped make the EMS staff more aware of the situations they might be encountering when answering a call involving children, the operations director said.
“Domestic abuse situations and even some trauma stuff like a broken arm for a kid, and the story doesn’t line up with injury patterns that would be there … then it’s time to investigate or get someone who can investigate it more,” he said.
Those little bits of information spotted by emergency services personnel trained to notice them can lead to children not just getting the medical care they need but also getting out of dangerous situations.
Naumann said this training is an extension of the Marble Falls Area EMS’ mission: to love, serve, and care.
“You can’t do this job without those three things,” he said.
Garrett said the center’s objective is to continue to work with the area’s emergency personnel to give this type of instruction.
“It is an honor to provide this trauma-informed training for local first responders,” she said. “Our goal is to provide many more community trainings in the future to best serve and meet community needs.”
The two groups have already talked about offering similar training at a later date.
“Even in really terrible circumstances, we focus on the good and try to do what we can and try to get them to a better place,” Naumann said. “Focus on the good. Focus on the helpers. There’s always helpers. That’s what makes this organization special. To me, they focus on doing good.”