The Campbell County Emergency Management Agency serves as the 'Point-of-Contact' and Dispatch for this team. Please call (307) 686-7477. If you get the voice mail, press "2" to be transferred to the CCEMA Duty Officer's cell phone.
The volunteers of the Campbell County Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CCCISMT) operate under the sponsorship of the Campbell County Memorial Hospital’s Patient and Guest Services Division and are supported by the Campbell County Emergency Management Agency. All members of the team are volunteers and follow the protocols established by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) and follow what is commonly termed the “Mitchell” model.
The CCCISMT provides “psychological first aid” to individuals and groups who have been exposed to a “critical incident”. The team does NOT offer counseling to these groups, but provides them with skills which can be used to cope with the experiences they have had. A Critical Incident Stress Management Intervention also allows them to process what happened in a non-threatening group environment with their peers.
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is designed for emergency responders who have taken part in or worked with a critical incident. We define “responders” as anyone who had direct involvement in that incident response, not just members of the “uniformed” response services. Yes, our focus is upon traditional “responders,” but we recognize that ANYONE who participated in a critical incident and attempted to provide assistance to others has become a “responder” and we consider their CISM needs on a case-by-case basis. Our services are NOT meant for the general public and should NOT be considered as a replacement for professional counseling and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
A Critical Incident is a powerful event which may produce unusually strong reactions in those who attempt to resolve them. Examples include:
- Sudden and/or Traumatic Death
- Serious Injury or Death of an Emergency Worker
- A difficult rescue effort
- The Victim and/or Family are known by the responder
- Natural disasters or mass casualty incidents
- Involvement in several difficult incidents within a short period of time
Emergency response personnel operate under a variety of stressors. These typically include the uncertainties faced with each call, the human tragedies involved, the hazards associated with the responses and/or rescues, even a fear of not being able to help those in need. Responders typically consider these stressors “part of the job,” but some situations create lasting impressions, some challenge the ability to function on the job or at home and sometimes, it’s simply the cumulative effect of a number of unresolved stressors. Left to grapple with these emotions on their own, some emergency responders may experience debilitating stress which can lead to physical or emotional illness, or even the loss of that responder’s services.
The Team is a group of specifically trained individuals who assist emergency service personnel in dealing with the stresses resulting from Critical Incidents. These volunteers have been trained in the protocols necessary to help work through the “normal reactions to abnormal situations.” The volunteers are also peers of the responders, coming from within the ranks of Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics, Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Dispatchers, Nurses and Mental Health Professionals. These peers understand the stressors from the perspectives of the responders.
The services provided are confidential and participants are able to speak freely. It is NOT group therapy. It is NOT a critique of the event. It is NOT fault-finding or an investigation. NOTHING is written down, NO records are kept and participation is VOLUNTARY. During a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, participants may describe their thoughts, actions and reactions to the stress event – or – they may just listen. The intervention provides the participants with ways to recognize the symptoms of stress and help them learn some ways to deal with stress.
In recent years the special needs of emergency responders have been recognized. Their work can be emotionally difficult, physically draining and have a profound impact on all aspects of their life. Often they are unaware of the impact an event has had upon them. The stress inherent in their job can cause the responder to experience a variety of symptoms which can include fatigue, nausea, change of appetite, headaches, memory loss, lack of concentration, anxiety, fears, guilt, depression, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, irritability or emotional numbing. Virtually everyone who provides emergency services will eventually exhibit a stress reaction.
- Reduces the impact of the stressful experience
- Reduces feelings of isolation
- Promotes psychological well being
- Helps prevent delayed psychological or stress reactions
- Improves coping skills for future incidents
- Helps keep them productive and on-the-job
Critical Incident Stress Management promotes a more rapid recovery following a Critical Incident and facilitates the responder’s integration back into normal home and work routines.
It is recognized that the families of emergency personnel are faced with special needs and challenges. These loved ones may become “secondary victims” as a result of the overwhelming stressors endured by their loved ones. Support, education and debriefings are available to the responders to help reduce the impact these stressful experiences have upon their families.