Responding to Urban Trauma in Real Time

With Hendriel Anderson, Mobile Urgent Treatment Team

Last month, SaintA and the City of Milwaukee co-hosted a conversation about childhood adversity and its impact on our urban communities. Several local adversity and trauma informed care experts gave a panel response after the keynote address, “Childhood Stress and Urban Poverty: The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Health” by Dr. Roy Wade of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Interest in the event and follow-up questions were so overwhelming, we didn’t have time to answer them all. Below you will find an additional Q&A with one member of the Milwaukee panel, Hendriel Anderson, Wraparound Milwaukee and the Mobile Urgent Treatment Team (MUTT).

Q: How do you build capacity around education if those you are trying to “serve” do not trust you (as in “police” representation of law enforcement?)

Hendriel Anderson
Hendriel Anderson

Anderson: The first responsibility that we (as clinicians and officers) have is to be very transparent about our roles and responsibilities. We have to not only state our objective – which is to help families – but also display the appropriate mask and persona as well.

When presented the opportunity, a family in crisis sees Officer Smith, not MPD. It is those moments that begin to recreate working partnerships, one officer at a time. As a clinician, the most important part of the process is to educate families, as soon as the crisis is stabilized and safety is reestablished. It is important for families to be able to identify their own crisis and be the experts on identifying what is needed for recovery.

In short, I ask families to trust the process, not me. Trust that we will advocate for them, act in their best interests and get them to tools to help them heal. Most families that I have had contact with, especially black families, are not concerned with black vs Police relations, race, or the negative connotations of MPD. Their biggest concern is trusting that the intervention, service or initiative is the “right” one and that our response will make their situation better.

Q: How is it determined when a trauma response team is to respond to a home?

Anderson: As first responders, officers are trained to identify children/families that have possibly been exposed to trauma or adversity. Upon arriving to a shooting, sudden death, car accident, fire, or another emergent event, the officer assesses the situation and completes a trauma response referral, and forwards that referral to the clinician.

Within 48 hours, someone from the mobile trauma response team will make contact with the family. If they are receptive to the intervention, a home visit will be scheduled. The responding clinician will complete an assessment with the children and discuss resources and services that could help address the children’s traumatic events.

The second and most effective way that the trauma response teams have engaged families is during the initial response to the home/community. Frequently, officers and clinicians ride together, responding to Police calls. If appropriate, upon arrival, the officer restores safety, and the clinician starts the healing process immediately. The clinician will process the traumatic event and give the family options for support.

To learn more about the trauma response team from Wraparound Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department, visit the Mobile Urgent Treatment Team (MUTT) programs page. If you’re interested in learning how to provide trauma informed care for children or families, you might benefit from a community training.

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