Maywood Clergy Organization Launches New Urban First Responders Team

Saturday, October 13, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Members of Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network’s Urban First Responders Team. | Courtesy Bishop Reginald J. Saffo 

Patients at Loyola University Medical Center who have been victimized by violence now have additional support with the launch of an Urban First Responders Team.

The team, which includes seven people, completed eight weeks of training in order to receive certification that allows them to work in a hospital and to provide care for victims of violence after they’ve left the hospital.

Bishop Reginald J. Saffo — the president of Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance (PTMAN) and president of United Faith Christian Institute and Bible College in Maywood — said that that the team is an outgrowth of PTMAN while the college facilitated the training.

Saffo said that the first responders are similar to chaplains, but whose functions are much more comprehensive.

The chaplains at hospitals provide the spiritual service, but they only do it on premises,” he said. “They can’t go outside of the hospital, so we’ll pick up and continue care and intervention all the way until the person finds their bearings.” 

Saffo said that the first responder program is the result of a collaboration between PTMAN and Loyola’s chaplaincy department. He said that patients will be able to utilize the services of the first responders upon request only. 

“Once contact is made with the person at the hospital, the first responders will continue to work with that individual after they’re released,” Saffo said. “They’ll assess that person’s spiritual condition and provide religious and support services. They’ll also provide services like housing and employment support.”

Saffo said that the eight-week first responder training is modeled on the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37 and Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which outlines the stages of human growth and development.

The first responders were also required to complete a week-long practicum at the hospital in order to get firsthand experience.

Saffo said that the program is an extension of an idea of Christianity that embraces social involvement, particularly in an urban environment. He said that the first responder program is designed for church personnel, in particular.

“The reason we focus on the church is the same reason why Dr. King used the church during the Civil Rights movement,” Saffo said. “Initially, King’s organization was the Southern Leadership Conference, but he changed it to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, because he knew it took a certain kind of consciousness to turn the other cheek. We say the same about this — it takes a certain kind of compassion to do this.”

Saffo said that PTMAN is looking to partner with other hospitals, particularly on Chicago’s West Side. He said that first responder training is ongoing. Anyone interested in becoming a first responder can visit PTMAN’s website here.

PTMAN expands to DuPage County 

The Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance, the organization of pastors and ministers throughout Proviso Township that focuses on various social outreach efforts, has a growing presence in DuPage County.

Bishop Reginald J. Saffo, PTMAN’s president, said that the DuPage Unitarian Church of Naperville has taken an active role in the Proviso Township organization.

“People think that because a place is placid and quiet that there are no issues,” Saffo said. “But wherever there is humanity, there will be issues.

“Recently, DuPage Unitarian hosted one of our monthly meetings and the theme was anti-violence. We discussed gun violence, race relations and other topics. It was a very robust meeting and well-attended.”

Saffo said that the church is PTMAN’s satellite in DuPage County. PTMAN has been meeting annually at the church for the last three years, he said. VFP 

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