Midland Sets the Standard for Safe Communities in Michigan
In 2016, the City of Midland received designation as a Safe Community by the National Safety Council's Safe Communities America program. With this recognition, Midland becomes just the 19th community in the nation - and the first in the state of Michigan - to receive this honor.
Accreditation as a Safe Communities America city requires an extensive application process, which includes community safety data, identification of major safety concerns, and sustainable, measurable plans for addressing these concerns within the community. In Midland, this process involved the efforts of community health providers, city and county government officials, non-profit organizations, and public and private businesses. This effort was made possible through generous funding and support from The Dow Chemical Company.
Image Source: National Safety Council Safe Communities America®
Midland's Safe Communities Focus
Based upon a review of community safety data and input from area organizations, the Safe Communities Coalition identified three key issues to be addressed through the Safe Communities America program:
- Fire and fall safety for senior citizens
- Drug abuse
- Mental health and suicide
Fire and Fall Safety for Senior Citizens
Falls and fires are two major safety concerns and injury issues facing the seniors in our community. To spread awareness and help prevent these injuries from occurring, volunteers conducted several training programs and presentations with senior citizens about the importance of protecting themselves from fall hazards and identifying main fire sources in their homes. Safe Community volunteers also participated in Senior Days at the Midland Mall and will join the Midland Fire Department in dispensing information at the Midland County Fair.
The Safe Communities Coalition is working diligently with MidMichigan Medical Center, Midland County Department of Public Health, 1016 Organization, and the Midland Police Department to learn more about the abuse of drugs in Midland, as well as potential programs that would be effective in reducing or eliminating sales and distribution of illegal drugs and drug use. In addition, the Coalition is working with programs currently existing in the community to identify ways to strengthen and promote these resources.
Mental Health and Suicide
Mental health and suicide prevention became an important topic to the Coalition when community data revealed significant gaps in care and support for this issue. As many organizations in Midland deal with mental health needs and see the impact of these issues, the Midland Area Community Foundation spearheaded a needs/gaps analysis and is currently working with Safe Communities and partner organizations to address those gaps in Midland.
Our Plans in Action
Senior Safety- "Team Handyman"
In order to appropriately respond to the number of older adult deaths from fires and falls, Safe Communities implemented Remembering When,™ a program developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program delivers 16 key messages to help older adults live safely at home for as long as possible. The eight fire and eight fall prevention messages have been developed by experts from national and local safety organizations and tested through focus groups in high-fire-risk states. The program was designed to be implemented by a coalition of local fire departments, service clubs, social and religious organizations, retirement communities, and others.
In the last year, the program has been presented to more than 135 Midland residents and over 75 home safety inspections have been conducted. And with the support of “Team Handyman,” a volunteer group that helps seniors maintain their homes, dozens of grabbars, hand rails and free smoke alarms have been installed.
Kelli Jankens, Injury Prevention Specialist for Trauma Services at MidMichigan Medical in Midland, will be presenting Midland’s results at the annual Remembering When Conference in early November in San Antonio, Texas.
Drug Abuse - Midland Police Department's "Facebook Live" Education Series
In conjunction with other local organizations and partners, the Midland Police Department has taken to social media to help educate the community on heroin and opiate addiction, as well as provide information on preventative measures and available resources for addicts and their families and loved ones. Led by Community Relations Sergeant Chris Wenzell, the sessions are held live via the MPD Facebook page and feature a variety of guest hosts, including medical professionals, community leaders, and family members touched by drug addiction.
See past opioid and heroin addiction education sessions to visit the MPD Facebook page. Don't forget to "like" the page to stay updated on upcoming events!
Mental Health - Mental Illness Crisis Intervention Team
The Midland chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness has created a Crisis Intervention Team program in collaboration with the Midland Sheriff's Department, Midland Police Department, Community Mental Health, MidMichigan Regional Medical Center, and the Midland County Prosecutor's Office.The CIT program offers comprehensive training for police officers in procedures and skills essential for handling crisis situations faced by individuals living with mental illness. CIT is a model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments, and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis.
With funding provided by the Midland Area Community Foundation, about 40 area law enforcement officers will be provided a week of training from NAMI and an expert training consultant. Benefits of these programs include lower rates of arrest and imprisonment for individuals with mental illness, improvement of police officer safety and saving of taxpayer money. The CIT program also increases community awareness of mental illnesses, their symptoms and procedures for their handling.
CIT training is expected to be scheduled in early 2018, and CIT procedures will be implemented immediately after completion of the training program.
Mental Health - Autism Safety Training for First Responders
Police officers, firefighters and other first responders will learn more about autism at the Michigan Autism Safety Training events in October 2017. Attendees will learn more about how to respond to individuals who are on the autism spectrum when they encounter them in distress in the community. The training will describe "how autism might present itself" and provide practical instruction aimed at calming situations that might arise, as well as provide resources to help develop a safety plan.
The training is offered by the Pediatric Center of Mid-Michigan, which is a collaboration between MCESA, MidMichigan Health, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan and Central Michigan University. The Midland-based Pediatric Center received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year to provide training opportunities for appropriate individuals.
Mental Health - Midland County Hope Portal
In February 2018, 211 Northeast Michigan launched the Midland County Hope Portal, a comprehensive, online database for people in Midland County who need resources related to depression and anxiety, physical and mental abuse, suicide, eating disorders, elder care, veterans' services and other issues. It provides a confidential way to quickly identify nonprofit and for-profit professionals and agencies who have specific expertise in areas where a resident may need help.
The portal is the first such community online resource in the state of Michigan and was funded by a grant from The Dow Chemical Company. The Midland County Hope Portal can be accessed 24/7/365 online.
The following individuals and their organizations have contributed to achieving the Safe Community designation and have committed to addressing the issues in our community:
Bill Allen - President and CEO, Midland Business Alliance
Paul Barbeau - Michigan Baseball Foundation
Cliff Block - Chief of Police, Midland Police Department
Jenifier Boyer - Director, Midland County Emergency Management
Alan Brown - Midland County Council on Aging
Chris Coughlin - Fire Chief, Midland Fire Department
Jill Dougherty - Great Lakes Safety Training
Ann Fillmore - Midland County United Way
Kelly Juday - Great Lakes Safety Training
Michael Krecek - Midland County Health Director
Fred McNett - Dow Corning
Sharon Mortenson - Midland Area Community Foundation
Dr. John Pfenninger - Midland Procedures
Diane Postler-Slattery - CEO, MidMichigan Medical Center
Katie Romo - The Dow Chemical Company
Michael Sharrow - Superintendent, Midland Public Schools
Scott Stephenson - Midland County Sheriff
Jack Telfer - Editor, Midland Daily News
Selina Tisdale - Midland Downtown Business Association
About Safe Communities America
Injuries - both intentional and unintentional - are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, injuries in the home have been steadily increasing since 1992. The Safe Communities America program seeks to improve safety and reduce the number of injuries and injury-related deaths by encouraging communities to engage with local safety partners, explore safety and injury data, and make plans to address these concerns as a community.
Founded in 2007, Safe Communities America is an accreditation program of the National Safety Council and a founding member of the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network (PPSCN). PPSCN works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) pending designation as an NGO with official relationship with WHO.
Once a community has received the Safe Communities America accreditation, it must conduct an annual review of health and safety improvements and, after five years, must complete a formal re-accreditation exercise.