“Alternative Response” (AR) is a community outreach program designed to offer on-scene crisis intervention to those experiencing traumatic events and to offer resources to those in need, in the city of Surprise. The functions performed by the AR program allow firefighter and paramedic units to be available to protect the community. Leslie Childers is a member of the AR team and she brings hope to those who have none, happiness to those who are grief-stricken, understanding to those who are lost and compassion to those who have been neglected by society.
The Phoenix Fire Department started the AR program in 1995. Two professionally trained volunteers staff a fire department van, one being a Crisis Response Advocate (CRA) and the other, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The CRA provides immediate crisis intervention through grief support and offers information and referrals available within the community. The EMT provides basic medical care and assistance to the CRA.
The volunteers are dispatched along with various fire department units on a wide range of calls including checking the welfare of individuals, assisting families displaced by residential fires, providing support and referrals to victims of crime, such as domestic violence, homicide, sexual and physical assault, providing support and referrals to citizens in psychological crisis or trauma, providing grief support, information and providing referrals in adult and pediatric death situations.
After the brutal murder of her father five years ago, Childers was prompted to work in the area of behavioral health. She now has a double Master’s Degree, one in social work, and one in public relations. When an AR van has been unavailable, the fire department units have always been able to count on Childers to show up and help console those who are suffering.