13 On Your Side's Vanessa Gongora shares the benefits of the program
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The Arizona Western College (AWC) Police Department and Heal the Hero are behind the Command Performance Program bringing neuroscience-driven brain performance technology to police, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Yuma.
The Heal the Hero Foundation has worked in a public-private partnership with Vitanya Brain Performance since 2015 to offer technology-based programming for first responders and other community members struggling with stress, trauma, or PTSD.
It's designed to improve stress resilience, optimize performance, augment speed and accuracy of work, reduce anxiety, enhance rest, and improve sleep cycles.
The program is a six-month commitment to working with a coach one on one.
Stephen Suho, AWC's Chief of Police signed up and said the coach goes over the supplements he should be taking.
"Their antioxidants, enzymes that help the process. So they ensure you're doing that," said Suho. "Are you attending the visor session what I call basically wearing a headset for hearing and a visor that drops down that stimulates the eyes."
He described the headset as a hearing stimulation with music and pulses and at the same time getting pulses of light through the visor as your eyes are closed.
"When we're dealing with severe trauma or severe emotional stress, the process in the brain, you get rid of that stuff going through like a real small straw and by going through this and developing this process, helping us, it opens it up and allows the brain to flush everything out," Suho said.
Suho said first responders tend to lose sleep because of the type of calls they attend to and getting the rest they need will improve their overall health.
"But bottom line is it allows us to process that. Get it out of the way, kind of clean out our brain and that helps us emotionally obviously if we're not dealing with the trauma that we dealt with from the shift and we can come back to work more refreshed if you will," explained Suho.
Suho mentioned that this is not counseling and they are very short sessions that last about 15 minutes.
It's twice a week for the first three months, then once a week after that.
"The nice thing about this is after the six-month process, we don't have to continue doing it. So it's a one-and-done kind of thing and what their studies are showing are seven, eight years after, people are still experiencing the positive reactions from it," said Suho.
The Yuma Police Department (YPD) has officers participating in the program.
According to YPD's Officer Christina Fernandez, they want to normalize seeking mental health.
"We get exposed to a lot of things that normal citizens don't typically see on a daily basis," said Fernandez. "So we want to make sure that as officers, we're receiving the right health care and that does include mental health."
Fernandez said it's difficult to go to child calls and this program can assist officers through the traumatic process.
"This is another service that'll be able to help and be able to relieve some of that anxiety, some of those stress indicators that we start to recognize," said Fernandez.
The program is located at AWC's Reskilling and Technology Center on S. Redondo Center Drive.
The program is offered at no cost to first responders thanks to a grant from the Arizona Governor’s office to the Heal the Hero Foundation.
According to Suho, 60% of each department can enroll in the program.
First responders can sign up at any time at https://www.commandperformance.org/.