(Gallatin County, Mont.) On February 9, 2020, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in Big Sky received a call from a snowmobiler who reported that he had possibly broken his leg up Buck Ridge. GPS coordinates from the 911 call placed him in McAtee Basin, which helped Search and Rescue members locate him quickly. Life Flight flew to his location and with the help of numerous other snowmobilers, the patient was loaded into the helicopter and flown to medical care. Because the snowmobiler had a charged cell phone and cell service, the rescue went quickly and efficiently.
Thirty-eight people from organizations across southwest Montana are taking part this week in Crisis Intervention Team Academy in Bozeman.
The purpose of the CIT Academy is to assist emergency responders, detention staff, dispatchers, and anyone who encounters people in crisis to engage, assess and assist those individuals experiencing crisis with mental and/or co-occurring substance disorders.
CIT is a 40-hour evidence based training that encompasses tools and skills participants need to better manage individuals presenting with mental health and/or co-occurring substance disorders. This training exposes the participants to materials and experiences from trained mental health and medical professionals to better prepare them to effectively and safely work with this unique population.
CIT Academy instruction includes:
- Suicide assessment and intervention
- Substance abuse and dual diagnosis
- Introduction to mental illness
- Psychotropic medications
- Legal issues
- Elderly and children’s issues
- Developmental disabilities
- Intervention strategies
- Scenario training
- Site visit to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs
One of the largest benefits of the training is building a strong network of emergency responders, mental health providers and others to better help people in crisis get connected to the resources they need within the community.
Taking part in this week’s academy are staff from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Park County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, Montana State University Police Department, Manhattan Police Department, Bozeman Probation and Parole, Community Health Partners and others.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin told participants Monday that he mandates this training for his deputies and detention officers.
“We are in the business of people,” Gootkin said. “We see people when they are rock bottom, when they are worst of the worst. (CIT) may help you save someone’s life.”
Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said this training is a valuable tool in the toolbox of law enforcement, and emphasized the relationship building opportunities the training provides.
“We get to learn from each other,” Crawford said.
The academy began Monday and is taking place all week at Montana State University and facilitated by more than 10 CIT coordinators.
MEDIA: to arrange a time to attend the academy, contact Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator, at 406-595-8963.
Academy location: Corporate Room on second floor of Bobcat Stadium, 1 Bobcat Circle in Bozeman.
(Gallatin County, Mont.) On February 8, 2020 at about 8:30 PM, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue was called out for a report of a stuck snowmobiler. The 21-year-old local man was snowmobiling by himself near Fairy Lake and got stuck in a tree well. Search and Rescue members responded to the scene on snowmobiles and helped the man extricate his machine. The man stated that it was a big mistake for him to go out by himself. Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to always take a buddy when heading out to play in the backcountry.
At around 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday February 5, 2020, a 30-year-old Minnesota man crashed his snowmobile and sustained a broken ankle while snowmobiling on the Big Sky trail system about 16 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. Rescuers were able to get to the man quickly because he was with friends and was able to call 911, providing an accurate location for the rescue personnel. Another group of snowmobilers in the area provided emergency heat blankets to the patient.
Emergency responders placed the man on a backboard and loaded him into a specialized snow ambulance, then transported him off the trail system to an awaiting ambulance from the Hebgen Basin Fire Department. He was transported by ambulance to Bozeman Health Hospital.
Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.
On February 4, 27 year old Michael Cottrell, Jr. of Jonesboro, Georgia died of self-inflicted injuries sustained in a fall at the Baxter Hotel.
In an effort to recruit, retain and support dedicated and talented public servants, Gallatin County is now offering paid parental leave as a benefit to its employees.
Gallatin County Commissioners voted 3-0 on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to adopt a new paid parental leave policy, which goes into effect for any birth or adoption occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
This new policy provides for six weeks of paid parental leave for employees who have themselves or with their spouse or domestic partner, experienced the birth or adoption of a child.
The leave is available to full- and part-time employees who have worked for Gallatin County for at least six months. Gallatin County currently has 515 full- and part-time employees.
“This policy reinforces our commitment to the well-being of County employees and their families,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Scott MacFarlane. “It is a modern economic reality that very few families can afford to have a stay-at-home parent, nor can they endure interruption to their income for an extended length of time. This policy benefits the health and development of children, boosts the productivity and morale of employees, saves the employer significant costs in turn-over, and contributes to closing the gender wage gap. It is clear that neither the employer nor the employee benefits when new parents are faced with the distressing choice between caring for their child and maintaining their paycheck.”
MacFarlane added that “we see this as an opportunity to set a new employment standard in our community, which will motivate further employers to adopt similar policies for their employees.”
The policy was crafted and recommended to Commissioners by the county’s Recruit and Retain Committee, a group of employees working on ways Gallatin County can improve both recruitment of new employees and retention of excellent employees.
The group has focused on improving Gallatin County’s personnel policies to make them more employee and family friendly. The committee has already made recommendations, which were adopted by the Commission, and plans on bringing additional recommendations for policy changes to the Commission for consideration in the near future.
Torie Haraldson, Water Quality Tech Specialist for the Gallatin Local Water Quality District, works on the Recruit and Retain Committee that crafted this new policy. She said the group’s goal was to craft a flexible policy that provides new moms and dads at Gallatin County with additional time for family bonding that can be used on a schedule that strikes a better work-life balance.
“One of the best ways to be an employer of choice is through policies that let employees know they are respected and appreciated as workers AND people,” Haraldson said. “New parents are more likely to be newer employees, often lower on the pay scale, and without a significant amount of sick leave on the books. I know from experience that it’s really hard to come back to work 12 weeks after giving birth with no sick or vacation leave left and a new baby in childcare, and feel like you’re doing your best as a parent or an employee.”
Gallatin County is one of the first major employers in the area to offer paid parental leave to employees. However, Gallatin County is not the first county in Montana to enact such a policy. Missoula County adopted a similar policy in 2016.
See Gallatin County’s full policy here.
Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator
(Gallatin County, Mont.) On Thursday January 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm, the West Yellowstone Police dispatch center received a 911 call from an injured crosscountry skier. The skier, a 53-year-old woman from Washington, had fallen while skiing on the Rendezvous Ski Trail about two mile south of the town of West Yellowstone. She had sustained a back injury and was unable to ski back to town.
Rescuers from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, Hebgen Basin Fire Department, and the Forest Service responded and met the injured skier at the scene of the accident. The skier was loaded onto a specialized snow ambulance and transported to the edge of town, where she was transferred to an ambulance and transported to the Big Sky Medical Center.
Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to thank all of the rescue organizations which came together to execute a successful backcountry rescue.