Critical incidents, which are threatening, overwhelming, or potentially traumatizing are an unfortunate part of some of the work we do, regardless of the industry we work within. Their occurrence can impact staff emotions, productivity, and cause turnover in highly taxing situations. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a well-known and widely used process to reduce the emotional trauma individuals experience in these situations offered within the broader framework of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). CISM offers a variety of interventions to effectively respond to particular situations or group needs. The cornerstone of CISM is the stress debriefing process. Using the straight forward, non-therapeutic debriefing process in a timely manner following an incident can greatly reduce post-traumatic stress that individuals may experience after an incident. CISD seeks to enhance resistance to stress reactions, build individuals’ resiliency or the ability to “bounce back” from a traumatic experience, and facilitate both a recovery from traumatic stress and a return to normal, healthy functions.
In the past year, Lifeways has made an effort to expand the number of trained staff able to provide Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and plans to offer the service free of charge to the communities within the Treasure Valley and Umatilla regions. Response time is important and each region has a complement of trained staff able to respond to a request for debriefing within 48 to 72 hours of the incident.
Our agency would like to further develop our CISD response teams by including trained individuals from a variety of community agencies. Individuals trained in CISD usually do not have mental health training but are part of a professional group such as police, fire, education, emergency services, medical, and the like. This provides a multidisciplinary, peer-led context to the stress debriefing, improving effectiveness. Training is offered by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation at various sites throughout the year. If your organization would like to develop an individual to respond to critical incidents within and outside of your agency, I would hope that you would contact us with your interest. You can find further information about the CISD foundation at www.icisf.org.
If your organization would like to receive CISD services, these are accessed through our crisis line (Ontario 541-889-9167, Pendleton 541-276-6207). Please contact us as soon as possible after the incident occurs. We are pleased to be able to help.