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Dana

Dana joined the iCarol team in 2013 after 12 years of direct service and administrative duties at a blended 2-1-1/crisis intervention/suicide prevention center. As the Communications and Social Media Manager at iCarol, you'll find her presenting Webinars, Tweeting, Blogging, Facebooking, and producing other materials that aid helplines in their work.

Join our Live Demo of iCarol Live Chat and Texting

Have you been considering adding on popular and in-demand communication channels like Live Chat or Texting to your organization’s services? Are you curious to see how these channels are handled in iCarol, and how they fit seamlessly into the rest of the functions of the software? I hope you’ll join my teammate Mary and I for a live demo on Thursday at 2pm EDT so we can show you!

To find out more about this webinar and what we’ll cover, visit our registration page.

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iCarol Webinar: Crafting Effective Crisis Center Messaging and Engaging with the Media

We’ve all been there — you’re minding your own business, running your suicide prevention center and focusing on your clients and staff, when suddenly you’re asked to talk to a journalist for a story about your organization, or comment on the topic of suicide prevention for an article. Does the very idea of this cause you to break out into a cold sweat? If it does, you’re certainly not alone!

If you feel uncomfortable or unprepared when it comes time to communicate effectively and succinctly with the media or the public, then I hope you’ll join us for our next webinar on Wednesday, April 4th at 2pm EST. We’ll be joined by Chris Maxwell, Communications Coordinator for the American Association of Suicidology, for a webinar on the topic of crafting effective messaging for your crisis center. This webinar is designed to help crisis center directors, program managers, and others with the responsibility of communication on behalf of your organization, to communicate effectively about your services, needs, and the topic of suicide.

About Our Presenter:

    Chris Maxwell
    Communications Coordinator
    American Association of Suicidology

    Chris is the Communications Coordinator for the American Association of Suicidology. He has worked in the suicide prevention and mental health field for the past nine years, first as a volunteer crisis counselor and then later as a statewide suicide prevention grant administrator. In a previous position with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, he worked closely with crisis centers across the country to connect and collaborate. Chris is passionate about understanding suicide, harnessing the capability of social media to prevent it, and strives to advocate for the voices of those with lived experience. He is a production team member of the #SPSM (Suicide Prevention and Social Media) community. Chris is an advisory board member for OurDataHelps.org, which allows people to donate their social media data to be used for mental health research and allow clinicians to create treatment tools. Follow Chris on twitter @chrsmxwll.

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Happy Pi Day! Enjoy these 3(.14) ways to use pie charts!

Happy Pi Day! What’s that exactly? Remember geometry and learning about finding the area and perimeter (aka circumference) of circles? To get your calculation correct, you need Pi in your equation. You might also see pi as the Greek letter “π”. It’s the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is always approximately 3.14159… (it’s actually been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond the decimal point!).

In the US and some other countries we write our dates in a MM/DD/YY format so today, March 14th, is 3/14 — Pi Day! And even though most other countries write their dates in a DD/MM format, today is generally accepted as Pi Day worldwide since there are only 12 months. If you’re nerdy like me, you can read more about Pi Day here. Yes, it’s a real thing. Yes, it has its own website.

In honor of Pi Day, here are 3 interesting uses of pie charts in iCarol.

1. A Bird’s Eye View

Use Pie Charts to give you a sort of broad overview of how the numbers or percentages are shaping up for a certain sub-category of your contact form. Or, use it as an overview of your location breakdowns.

In the Analysis tab of Statistics, when selecting Chart Type, you have two Pie Charts to choose from, either Caller Issues and Demographics (which will start by showing you all the Categories on your contact form) or Caller Location.

pie chart

The resulting charts are below. If you selected the Caller Issues and Demographics chart you get this broad overview of your contact form Categories.

categories pie chart

And if you selected the Location pie chart you’ll see a high level look at the geographic location entries.

location pie chart

2. Drill down to get more detail

Once you’ve got that high level pie chart available, you can click on pieces of the pie to drill into the data below. Drilling into a Category will then show you the sub-categories that are available. These sub-categories are the Groups or questions asked within each category on your contact form. On a location chart, drilling into the State or Province piece of the pie will show you the county level information.

If we take our Caller Issues and Demographics chart above and drill into the mauve colored “Issues” category, we’ll see the Issue choices of sub-categories.

Issues pie chart

If we click on the “Mental Health/Counseling” piece of the pie, we’ll drill down to the lowest available level, which are the field choices or answer options within that sub-category. These are the items you may find in the drop-down or list of check box choices on the contact form.

mental health field choices

As mentioned, if you drill further down into the location pie chart, you’d get the counties breakdown. So if I click on Nevada, I’ll see the Nevada counties chosen.

Nevada counties

Clicking on Eureka county shows me how the city numbers shape up for that county.

Eureka cities

3. Percentage vs. Count

Remember if percentages aren’t really your thing and you’d like to see a count instead, just click the “Total Count” option for any of the pie charts shown.

Count vs Percentage

Now that I’ve told you a bit more about pie charts in iCarol, I suggest you go celebrate Pi Day in the truly best way possible — enjoy a piece of real, edible pie.

923px-Cherry-Pie-Slice

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Net Neutrality Changes Could Pose a Threat to Crisis Intervention, Suicide Prevention, and Other Non-profit Services

“Net neutrality” is a term you’ve likely heard in recent months, but did you know that the repeal of these regulations could directly and negatively effect crisis services, suicide prevention, and other aspects of this industry’s online presence and serving consumers on those channels?

Beau Pinkham, Director of Crisis Intervention Services at the Crisis Center of Johnson County, recently penned an article on this topic on his organization’s blog. If you attended our recent webinar you know that Beau is well-versed in providing services online, and the technological hurdles crisis centers must navigate in delivering these services. He writes, in part:

    Volunteers at The Crisis Center answer about 30,000 crisis contacts each year. About half of those are calls to the 24-hour hotline and half are chats. Soon, chat will surpass phone calls as the primary mode by which people in crisis get help. Demand is at an all-time high but nationally, only 9 percent of chats are answered.

    At IowaCrisisChat.org, we are just beginning to find new, innovative ways to close the gap; but the FCC changed the rules and we are losing control.

    What we built over the last decade is under threat. This entire system, like much of the web, was built with the assumption of open, equitable Internet in which everyone can participate. The FCC tearing net neutrality apart literally puts lives at stake.

To read his full article, click here.

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iCarol Webinar: Developing Volunteer Crisis Worker Competencies

Our next webinar is coming up on Wednesday, March 7th at 1pm EST. Traditional competency frameworks are very much based on employment and paid career opportunities. But what if these frameworks could be applied to volunteer work that could help volunteer coordinators, managers, and others identify the best potential volunteers for a position?

That’s the topic that our presenters, Laura Mayer and Liz Barnes, will discuss in our webinar. They created a volunteer competency framework that helps identify and define a high performance volunteer, and refines the recruiting process to predict which candidates will perform successfully and stay with the agency for a long time. The framework helps take that “gut feeling” you may have about who will be a great volunteer during their interview, and put its into a measurable format.

About Our Presenters:

    Laura Mayer, Director, PRS CrisisLink

    Ms. Mayer is the Program Director at PRS CrisisLink, a 24-hour crisis hotline, textline and telephone reassurance program serving northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. PRS CrisisLink is a program of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc. and exists so that individuals living with mental illness, substance use disorders, mild intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and anyone who faces life crises can achieve safety, personal wellness, recovery and community integration. Ms. Mayer is a graduate of George Mason University’s Community and Global Health program and has brought cost effective and evidence-based suicide prevention programming to the local community. In 2014, Ms. Mayer partnered with the local public mental health system to provide crisis texting to the Fairfax County Public School System and the surrounding communities. Ms. Mayer is a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Steering Committee, Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia, the Fairfax County Youth Suicide Fatality Review Team and mental health promotion workgroups in several jurisdictions. Ms. Mayer is a certified Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainer, Suicide Survivor Support Group Facilitator and holds certifications in suicide risk assessment, domestic violence danger assessments and mental health first aid. She has been interviewed and featured by Comcast Newsmakers and NBC4’s Changing Minds Campaign.

    Liz Barnes, Assistant Director Plans & Policy, Defense Suicide Prevention Office

    Ms. Liz Barnes is the Assistant Director, Plans and Policy at the Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office. Her portfolio responsibilities include developing suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies, guidance, and strategic planning, as well as the Department of Defense lead for the Veterans/Military Crisis Line and BeThere Peer Support and Outreach Call Center. Ms. Barnes served in the United States Army for nine years in the Ordnance Corps and Adjutant General Corps and had a variety of assignments at the installation level, National Guard Bureau, and Army Staff. Since 2009, Ms. Barnes has worked in the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in a variety of positions focusing on personnel policy, human resources, and congressional affairs. In 2012, Ms. Barnes was selected to assist in the integration efforts of the Department’s recommendations with the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. Ms. Barnes is a Board member at Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (PRS) Inc. and a volunteer hotline and textline crisis worker and core trainer at Psychiatric PRS CrisisLink, in northern Virginia. Ms. Barnes established and co-leads a suicide bereavement support group that fills a gap in services for suicide loss survivors ages 18-24 years old in the Washington Metropolitan area. Ms. Barnes is also an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) Trainer. Ms. Barnes holds a Bachelor’s Degree from McDaniel College in Sociology and a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University in Human Resources Management.

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Helplines Partnership Holds Annual Conference

Helplines Partnership (HLP) is an important membership body for organizations that provide helpline services in the UK and around the world. They facilitate high quality service delivery to callers by providing training, a Helplines Quality Standard, and tailored support. HLP also raises the profile of the helpline sector by representing their members’ interests and influencing the social policy agenda. For over 25 years, Helplines Partnership has supported its members to deliver a quality service to vulnerable people when they need help the most.

HLP held their Annual Conference on November 30, 2017. The Conference this year was themed around “Life’s Journey” and held in London. It provided an opportunity for helpline professionals to network with one another, find inspiration and rejuvenate purpose and energy from the speakers and seminars presented. The conference also served as the place setting for Helpline Partnership’s Annual General Meeting, and Awards Ceremony recognizing achievements of member helplines in several categories. More than 120 people attended the conference this year, representing 40-50 helplines from HLP’s membership.

Following a welcome by Chair Sophie Andrews, the day began with its first ever International Member Showcase featuring Wida Yalaqi, founder of Afghanistan Capacity Development and Educational Organization (ACDEO). ACDEO is a helpline in Afghanistan, which works to improve the well-being of all Afghans by developing social welfare and promoting a better quality of life. Despite the great work done for women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, the vast majority of the Afghan population remain unaware of the rights afforded to women within the Afghan constitution. This prompted Wida, (an Afghan native who received her higher education in the UK before moving back to Afghanistan in 2005), to found the organization. They offer counseling, mental health support, advice on self-protection, consultation with a religious scholar if desired, and referrals to ground-based service providers. In the few years since its 2013 inception, ACDEO has helped more than 56,000 families with legal advice and counseling, and connected more than 2,000 callers with legal, protection and health services. Among their key accomplishments is the improvement of community perceptions of women’s rights.

For many attendees, the international showcase proved to be one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring parts of the day. Hearing about the unique challenges faced by this helpline’s staff, and the high quality of services delivered by them in the face of some seemingly insurmountable odds was admirable. In addition to the typical challenges all helplines face, ACDEO must overcome obstacles like making connections with people, particularly women, who live in extremely remote and rural provinces. They are often illiterate and completely cut off from resources the rest of us take for granted, such as Internet access. Because their work is considered controversial within the framework of local culture, the staff face threats to their safety and must take many precautions just to carry out their work each day, navigating bomb threats and evacuations. Taking all this into account, it’s clear to see just how courageous and committed these helpline staff are in carrying out their work to improve the lives of Afghans.

With the conclusion of the international showcase, it was time to move to the seminars. Debbie Sadler spoke on behalf of Unlock, a national charity that provides a voice and support for people with convictions who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record, often long after they have served their sentence. Debbie spoke about the evolving ways in which clients wish to reach them, often dependent upon demographics. This discussion gave a chance for members to reflect on how much they are also seeing demands for alternative channels, which helps to inform Helplines Partnership of the training needs of their members as well.

The second seminar was presented by Emily Hodge of Coaching Emily. Emily is an ex-NHS and charity professional health psychology specialist and coach, and cancer survivor. She supports people moving forward from cancer and places a focus on gentle living and well-being. Emily’s seminar was particularly suited to the “Life’s Journey” theme of the conference. It was very helpful to attendees as far as the discussion of resilience and self-care needed to be effective helpline workers, given some of the vicarious trauma and personal toll that helping others can have on helpers and carers. Group exercises and discussion were a key part of Emily’s presentation.

Speaker Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE, who doubled as awards presenter, is the founder of DrugFam, an organization providing support to families of those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Elizabeth shared her personal journey as the parent of twin sons addicted to heroin, and the painful loss of one of her sons to the addiction, while the other is now in recovery. Elizabeth told her story, which many who have loved someone struggling with addiction, particularly parents, could identify with. As a secondary school teacher working in a nice community whose sons went to a private school, she never imagined drugs or addiction would be an issue. She spoke about the fact that addiction can touch any family, regardless of income, class, race, or other factors. As her sons’ substance use progressed, Elizabeth found herself making decisions out of love and wanting to provide her sons with comfort, but realized that in the end her actions were not what was truly best for her sons and actually enabled them instead. Her book Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid? What drugs did to my family explores the impact that drugs have had on her family, and serves as a reminder to families battling addiction that they are not alone. She founded DrugFam in order to help families going through similar experiences, and her charity work earned her the award of Member Of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire.

Elizabeth also hosted the Helpline Awards ceremony where six charities received honors in six different categories. iCarol sponsored the award for Best Innovative Use of Technology. You can read more about that here!

Chrissy B aka Christoulla Boodram, television personality and mental health advocate, participated in the conference by speaking alongside several of the guests including Dr. Audrey Tang, resident Psychologist on her program. Chrissy B’s show is dedicated entirely to mental health and wellbeing and is the UK’s only TV show with this as its sole focus. Chrissy B and her guests lead the conference participants in her signature Mental Health Dance Challenge providing all conference goers with the chance to have a little fun while being reminded of the importance of good mental health. The show was recorded and aired on Sky 203 on Monday 23 January 2018. You can watch the show featuring the HLP conference below, or visit Chrissy B’s YouTube channel.

The day ended with a keynote by Claire Lomas MBE. Claire was working as a chiropractor and had reached the highest level in the equestrian sport of eventing when a tragic accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. The adjustment after this drastic and life-alerting event was obviously an immense challenge for Claire, and it was hard not to dwell on all she had lost. While there were many dark days, she managed to dig deep to find the strength and courage to completely rebuild her life with renewed goals and focus. Claire became headline news worldwide in 2012 when she walked the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit, which took a grueling 17 days and raised £210k for Spinal Research. She became the first owner of a robotic suit and used it when she had the honor of lighting the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square. In 2013 Claire completed a 400-mile hand-cycle around parts of England, visiting schools on the way to inspire students, and raising another £85k supporting the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

Claire is a woman who never stops reaching for the next achievement. Believing that there will soon be a cure for spinal paralysis, in 2014 and 2015 she organized a series of events that took the fundraising total to over £500k, securing her place as one of Britain’s most inspirational women. She completed the Great North Run in 2016, and last summer she became the first paralyzed female with a motorcycle racing license.

Though a split second altered the course of Claire’s life forever, she emerged from the darkness to find new and immeasurable ways to contribute to the world. Claire’s keynote address left the audience emotional and inspired.

As you can hopefully see from this recap, the day was considered a resounding success by organizers and attendees alike. Feedback included praise such as:

    “Very relevant and inspiring”
    “This is the best Conference I have attended”
    “Fantastic, funny and moving”

To learn more about Helplines Partnership membership and other information, you can visit them online, and follow them on social media:

iCarol Facebook logo  iCarol Twitter logo  iCarol LinkedIn logo

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iCarol Webinar: Building a United Crisis Line Team in Times of Diverse Need

call me maybe lifeline 1800273talk

Our next webinar, titled “Building a United Crisis Line Team in Times of Diverse Need,” will be held on Tuesday, February 6th at 2pm EST.

With the stress of crisis call content and increasing volume as well as an expanding spectrum of needs being addressed, it can be difficult to know how best to unify your team and provide them with ample support, supervision and training, while also addressing your own operations, adequate scheduling, and volunteer/staff development.

This webinar, led by Rebecca Stock and Johanna Louie of the Suicide Prevention Center at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, will guide crisis center managers and supervisors through addressing these challenges. Attendees of this webinar will learn about expanding the skillsets of their staff and volunteers so that a wide array of topics can be addressed by them on calls and chats, ensuring that the most vulnerable populations are well served. Our presenters will also take us through how to balance the management of day-to-day operations with the needs of the volunteer or staff crisis workers. We’ll also discuss how to pair data and manager expertise to plan for operational and staffing needs. The tools we discuss will accelerate crisis lines’ abilities to balance meeting the increasing demand of people in crisis while caring for a vulnerable team of crisis counselors.

Our Presenters:

Rebecca Stock joined Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in 2007 as a Volunteer Suicide Prevention Counselor and since then has become a Supervisor and is now the Program Coordinator for the 24-Hour Crisis Line. As Program Coordinator, Rebecca provides direct supervision of the Shift Supervisors and Crisis Line Counselors and oversees the daily operations of the crisis line. A large part of Rebecca’s duties include interfacing with related community agencies and local colleges, attending meetings with the Department of Social Services, participating in various outreach events. Being part of the Suicide Crisis Line for over 10 years, Rebecca has been trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and plays a large role in providing training for new Volunteer Crisis Counselors. In January 2017, Rebecca completed her Masters in Counseling specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy. Rebecca has been touched by losing someone to suicide when in high school and has wanted to erase the stigma since then.

Johanna Louie started at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services as a Volunteer Crisis Line Counselor in 2013. Currently, she is the Online Crisis Services Program Coordinator and oversees the chat and text services. She is passionate about utilizing technology to break down barriers to mental health services. Johanna is data driven and utilizes her prior experience in consumer insights at The Walt Disney Company to leverage analytics in making operational decisions for the Crisis Line. Her experiences in crisis services also include involvement with the Emergency Shelter Program at Center for the Pacific Asian Families, the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team as well as The Trevor Project. She holds a Master of Science in Human Behavior from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work from Columbia University.

We hope you can join us for this informative webinar. To find out more and register, click the button below.

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Participate in a dissertation project on crisis line staff and self-care engagement

check mark on a piece of paper

Crystal T. Henson, MA, a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate at Western Kentucky University, is conducting a dissertation project regarding crisis line staff and self-care engagement. In order to help Crystal gather data, we wanted to make all crisis helpline staff, volunteers, and managers aware so they can share their useful input. The survey takes 10-20 minutes to complete and asks questions regarding work experience and self-care engagement. The survey can be accessed by following this link, and can be completed on a desktop or mobile device. Please note it will close at midnight CST on January 31, 2018.

We hope you can take a few moments to offer your valuable input toward Crystal’s dissertation. Click here to participate.

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iCarol Webinar: The Changing Face of Initiating Active Interventions in the Online Space

Adding on new communications channels people can use to reach your helpline is a critical element of providing effective service to your community in the 21st century. But, while the addition of such contact methods is important, it brings with it a unique set of challenges that crisis centers must be ready to address. Online emotional support, particularly Live Chat, can be extremely anonymous. In fact, that’s part of the appeal for users — the ability to confide in someone without revealing one’s face, voice, and identity sets exactly the stage that many people prefer or need in order to truly open up and reach out for help. In instances where emergency rescue might be needed for a person in imminent danger, the same exciting technology that allows so many in need to access help in the way they prefer can create anxiety and headaches for crisis workers who want to help.

Join us for our next webinar where we’ll delve into the topic of active intervention in the online space, and how this aspect of crisis intervention continues to evolve.

    When: Thursday, January 25, 2018
    Time: 2:00pm Eastern

    Our Presenter:

    Beau Pinkham
    Director of Crisis Intervention Services
    The Crisis Center of Johnson County

    About Beau:

    Beau has been part of the crisis intervention/suicide prevention field since 2002, when he started volunteering at his local crisis line. Subsequent experience being a flood recovery outreach counselor after the devastation of 2008 and working with the homeless population after that led him to a staff position with The Crisis Center of Johnson County, where he currently directs crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. He is a current board member for Contact USA, an accrediting body for crisis centers across the United States, and is part of the American Association of Suicidology’s Strategic Media Response Task Force. He has been involved in panel discussions on the intersection of video games and suicide at SXSW and other conferences, and has presented on how tech trends have affected and will continue to affect crisis intervention services.

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iCarol Webinar: Practicing Effective Management presented by TBD Solutions

The skills and natural abilities that make us great listeners, social workers, and mental health advocates don’t always lend themselves to making us naturally at ease in management roles. Yet, at the heart of every thriving behavioral health organization is a strong and well-functioning team, and these teams often do not exist without adaptive leadership and effective management. As the demands on managers increase and access to resources becomes more elusive, the team’s ability to deliver on its performance indicators becomes even more crucial to program success.

Simply put — you can’t adequately deliver services, maintain funding for your program, and ensure quality performance, enthusiasm and job satisfaction among your staff without effective managers.

We hope you can join us for our next webinar on this topic, scheduled for January 9, 2018 at 1pm EST:

Practicing Effective Management presented by Sarah Bowman and Travis Atkinson of TBD Solutions.

What You’ll Learn:

In this webinar, we’ll provide tangible keys to effective management through strong working relationships, performance communication, delegation, and professional growth. We expect that by joining us you will:

  • Learn the four critical behaviors of effective managers: knowing your people, communicating about performance, pushing work down, and growing your people.
  • Understand benefits and challenges of managing people in a mission-driven organization.
  • Learn how to proactively address the most common challenges faced by managers, including burnout, turnover, poor communication, and lack of accountability.

Space in this free webinar is limited! Click here to register.

Meet Our Presenters:

Sarah Bowman tbd solutions

Sarah Bowman, Associate Consultant, TBD Solutions

Sarah has infused the behavioral health system with infectious energy and a commitment to excellence for over 15 years. Her strong leadership, utilization of data-driven decision making, and focus on outcomes measurement has helped enhance a vast array of behavioral health programs and services. She is a dynamic presenter and trainer, with an excellent track record for building high performing, strengths-based teams.

Travis Atkinson tbd solutions

Travis Atkinson, Associate Consultant, TBD Solutions

Travis has served as a manager and educator for over a decade. A consummate student of management and leadership, Travis has supervised diverse teams and maintains a reputation for getting lasting results and spurring innovation. He has trained hundreds of managers across the Midwest.

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