HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Oct. 26, 2017) -- A Redstone Arsenal Employee Assistance Program coordinator who visited the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center to give classes to employees emphasized the importance of training repetition as a key to overcoming a real crisis.

Wanda Gilbert, who led prevention and awareness training sessions at Huntsville Center throughout October on the topics of alcohol, drug abuse and suicide, posed a question to attendees at the start of her training: "What would you do if your clothes were on fire?"

The phrase "stop, drop and roll" comprised the majority of replies.

"Why do you know that? Because you were taught that over and over and over," said Gilbert. "That is why we have these repeat training sessions -- not to get on your nerves. When you are in a crisis situation, you might not have time to weigh options A, B and C. You have to respond quickly."

The National Fire Protection Association has reinforced the "Stop, Drop and Roll" technique to the public through years of repetition. Now called "Know When to Stop, Drop and Roll," the technique is only one part of a NFPA's public education training model, "Learn Not to Burn." Other techniques from the model include "Get Low and Go," and "Get Outside, Stay Outside."

The Army's approved training model for suicide awareness and prevention is ACE, which has its techniques spelled out in its acronym: "Ask your buddy," "Care for your buddy" and "Escort your buddy." Though ACE was developed for Soldiers, the three-step model is also part of suicide prevention training tailored to Department of the Army civilians.

As part of that training, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine promotes a host of other suicide prevention strategies such as developing positive life coping skills, encouraging help-seeking behavior, and raising awareness and vigilance toward suicide prevention.

Gilbert's other class was on the prevention and awareness of alcohol and substance abuse. One technique she explored was applicable to both those in the clutches of dependency and those around them: discarding the stigma of addiction to make seeking help easier.

Gilbert said people are reticent to frame addiction and alcoholism as diseases like cancer and heart disease. Nonetheless, she said, they are.

"Heart disease, cancer and addiction are in the same health spectrum," said Gilbert. "They are all lifestyle-related health problems."

Gilbert said there's a resistance to this grouping because heart disease and cancer can run in families, but the same can be true for ailments that have stigmas.

"Does addiction run in some of our families?" she asked. "Does mental illness run in our families?"
As an example, she said someone with a family history of skin cancer can take preventive measures such as regular checkups, the use of sunscreen, and developing habits like staying out of the sun.

Those with a family history of alcoholism, on the other hand, can take preventive measures such as finding healthy alternatives to drinking and learning how to recognize when drinking has become a problem for themselves or their loved ones.

The Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, offers help and referrals to employees dealing with personal problems both at work and at home such as depression, stress, interpersonal conflicts, substance abuse or financial problems. To learn more, call 256-313-6255 or visit the EAP offices in Bldg. 3466 on Snooper Road.

For immediate help with concerns of suicide for you or someone you know, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or if it's an emergency, call 911.