Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review of De-Escalation Training Techniques

Annaliese Stelzer-Terminello, Food Bank Coordinator at SFC Member Immanuel Community Services, shares her experience from a de-escalation training that was held for SFC and MPC members on Monday, July 30, 2012.

On a Monday afternoon, a group of Food Bank and Meal Program managers, coordinators, and volunteers gathered at the Mt. Baker Community Club to learn about methods of de-escalation. The Seattle Food Committee and the Meals Partnership Coalition have recently started engaging in various trainings and meetings together to build partnership between programs concentrating on food justice in our area. We sat in folding chairs, eating fresh cherries and popcorn, and listened to our presenter, Ellis Amdur, speak about his experiences in de-escalation and share tactics for use in our own programs. Ellis was entertaining as well as knowledgeable. He taught us through stories instead of slides, using his natural theatrics to keep a large audience engaged. We learned about crowd control, behaviors of an angered person vs. an enraged person, how to protect yourself and your volunteers in a crisis situation, and more. Audience participation and testimony were encouraged. My partner and volunteer, Dante John Terminello, and I were both chosen to help demonstrate de-escalation tactics. I expected that we would address most of these issues and had heard or used a number of his tactics before, but repetition of good information is always helpful.  I was surprised when Ellis spent a portion of time talking about deep-breathing. We all practiced a method of circular breathing that Ellis had learned while studying martial arts in Japan. The purpose of this practice is to stay calm in tense situations and make quick decisions with a clear head. Each agency was given a free copy of Ellis’ book, which details the information he presented and is meant to be shared with interested partners in each program.  Both Food Banks and Meal Programs serve a diverse and sometimes unpredictable population. De-escalation is an important skill to have when working in social service arenas, as well as in the home, at school, and throughout daily life. As the Food Bank Coordinator of Immanuel Community Services, I highly value these types of trainings and greatly appreciate the chance to join with other food bank and meal program leaders and volunteers to discuss new tactics, best practices, and interesting stories about nonviolence and de-escalation.

Annaliese Stelzer-Terminello
Immanuel Community Services
Food Bank Coordinator

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