Answering the call

John Karrick has answered the call to serve several times in his life, first through a decade of service to the Navy then as pastor of First Baptist Church in Vinton for more than five years. After leaving First Baptist Church, John couldn’t leave service behind and wanted to continue in some form of ministry. He completed police chaplain training and now John serves as chaplain for the Vinton Police Department.

To reinforce his credibility when sharing hotline numbers, John called a few national suicide hotlines to test the response. When he called the Iowa Helpline he was impressed by the service. When John shares the Iowa Help Line number, he is confident that someone will answer the call. He was given a direct line to the mobile crisis outreach team and knows they will respond to the caller to assess the situation.

On his first ride along experience, John realized that many of the law enforcement officers are like armed social workers. He saw first-hand how mental health crises could rapidly escalate to where either the person in crisis or the officers themselves would be in harms’ way. The need for a mobile crisis outreach program, where trained counselors could de-escalate a situation and keep both parties safer, was clear.
John is also interested in grief ministry and he can see unhealed grief on people’s faces. He holds a personal connection to suicide and grief: two of his nephews died by suicide and, after 10 years, his sister still has not recovered from the loss of her son.

John also thinks about the 911 dispatchers and first responders who hear the trauma in people’s lives every day. Thankfully, the East Central Region has trainings available to him. John will be taking advantage of the Mental Health First Aid, Crisis Intervention Team, ACES, and Trauma Informed Care trainings that are available through the ECR.

Information about Mental Health First Aid Training and more can be found under the “Resources” tab on