Empen Network 46/2013 activity: Prepared Mind - Successful Operations Workshop held in Finland

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16 September 2013

CEPOL Empen Network Workshop, titled “Prepared Mind - Successful Operations”, was held at the Police College of Finland in Tampere on 3-5 September 2013. Twenty-nine participants from 21 different Member States took part in the event. The workshop’s expert trainers came from Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland and Slovenia. The activity had a multidisciplinary focus and the participants of the activity were medical experts, psychologists and policemen.

Course manager Mari Koskelainen opened the work shop and introduced the aims and goals. The workshop focused on two main themes:

1. The impact of cumulative form of police trauma on physical and mental health.

2. Mental preparedness and increasing resilience during work operations and life in general.

On the first day Judith Andersen and Konstantinos Papazoglou gave a presentation entitled “The impact of cumulative form of police trauma on physical and mental health". They presented empirical research evidence on the impact of cumulative stress covering different populations and focusing on police officers. A presentation by a team of Finnish expert speakers followed. These talks focused on debriefing and post trauma workshop practices in the Finnish Police. Sirpa Paakkari summarised the development of debriefing policies and practices in the Finnish Police. Juha Järvelin spoke about the evolvement and content of the post trauma workshops that are offered to the Finnish Police Officers. Pasi Härkönen explored the role of peer support as a part of the post trauma workshops and the ways of making the content and process of the post trauma workshops more accessible to the attending police officers. After the Power Nap session, which was facilitated by Markku Nyman and Harri Gustafsberg, and took place every afternoon of the workshop, Tuija Turunen ended the first day with a presentation entitled “EMDR and post trauma workshops”.

The day two started with presentations on development and practices of different support programmes for police officers in two European countries. Michael Eckerskorn gave a presentation entitled "Experiences of running CISM-programs in the federal police of Germany". Ólafur Örn Bragason continued this theme, and spoke about the support systems in a talk entitled "Stress among Icelandic Police Officers and efforts to reduce its effects". The talk by Elizabeta Vovko, "Mental preparation for enhancing performance in work related tasks (using EMDR)", concentrated on theory and practice on enhancing different abilities as well as coming to terms with previous traumatic experinces. Harri Gustafsberg and Markku Nyman continued on the theme of mental preparedness and gave a presentation entitled: "Focus on mind". This presentation invited the audience to consider and define the required state of mind and abilities needed during demanding and stressful police operations.

On the last day of the activity, Judith Andersen and Konstantinos Papazoglou gave a presentation entitled "Dealing with the trauma impact on physical health". The session gave the audience an opportunity to observe a demonstration, during which stress levels were measured, and techniques for lowering the levels of stress were explored. Judith Andersen and Konstantinos Papazoglou continued by providing an interactive session entitled "Resilience exercise", during which the audience was again provided with a chance to explore this concept via practical exercises.

A plenary session ended the work shop. During this session the participants had an opportunity to ask questions form the expert speakers and give feedback about the workshop. Mari Koskelainen, who facilitated the plenary session, highlighted the goals that had been set for the workshop. Although many remaining questions and dilemmas were raised, there seemed to be a shared view that the goals of the workshop had been achieved.

Despite having been active participants during three information packed days, the attendees of the work shop were still keen to take the opportunities to share thoughts and experiences outside the scheduled programme time as well. Evenings also provided an opportunity to relax and socialise in a less formal manner. A lot of networking took place during the workshop. It appeared that the participants left the course having formed new contacts with colleagues from many different European countries and overseas, which they were also planning to keep alive after the workshop.

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