Monday, March 19, 2018

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

 Seven Mountains/Susquehanna Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team

 The Seven Mountains / Susquehanna Valley CISM team is a cooperative effort of the LTS - Lycoming, Tioga, Sullivan & Seven Mountains EMS Councils. Critical Incident Stress Management interventions provided by the team assist individuals after stressful calls to lessen the impact, helping responders return to their regular lives. Services are provided to any emergency response agency requesting assistance at no charge. The highest priorities for the team are to maintain confidentiality, to respect the feelings of those involved, and to assist peers after traumatic events.

Stress and the Public Safety Personal

Public safety providers face stressful events every day. The work they choose to perform can be emotionally difficult, physically draining and a threat to their personal safety. Yet this same work is seen as extremely rewarding, sometimes exciting and a method for fulfilling some personal needs.

The work still presents the public safety provider with a constant low to moderate level of stress and an occasional dose of high level stress.

Recognizing Critical Incident Stress

Critical incidents may produce a wide range of stress symptoms, which can appear immediately at the scene, a few hours later or within a few days of the event.

The more symptoms experienced, the more powerful the stress reaction can be. The longer the symptoms last, the more potential there is for permanent harm.

When to request the CISM Team

You should feel free to call the CISM Team about the need for services any time you or one of your fellow workers are having difficulty dealing with an incident or when the nature of the incident suggests that intervention might be useful.

Main Objective!

The main objective of a debriefing is the restoration of human dignity and self worth to people who are experiencing normal reactions and normal symptoms of distress because they were exposed to a highly abnormal event - a Critical Incident to them.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

When a CISD Team  is conducted you should expect 2-4 team members to be present. The teams consist of peer support and mental health personnel.

All members of the team have been trained in the CISD process according to national standards. This consistent approach will be helpful if future debriefings have to be provided for large scale disaster situations where regions are asked to assist neighboring regions.

A CISD is a group interaction where a team of trained people allow public safety providers to talk about their thoughts, actions and reactions to a stressful event. A CISD is not group therapy and is not a critique of the event. The information shared in a debriefing is strictly confidential. A CISD is a time to learn what are normal expected behaviors and feelings following a stressful event and to receive assurance that you are experiencing a normal reaction to an abnormal event.

Critical Incidents

A critical incident is any situation faced by the public safety providers that causes them to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with their ability to function either at the scene or later.

Some examples of critical incidents include: suicide, loss by death of a public safety provider, serious injury of an emergency provider, media interest in the event, prolonged events, injury or death of children, mass casualty incidents, threats to public safety provider's safety and natural disasters.


Lycoming County 911 Center

(570) 433-4360
(570) 329-4060

Mifflin County Office of Public Safety

(717) 248-9607



International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.

After a Disaster: Self-Care Tips for Dealing with Stress

Things to Remember When Trying to Understand Disaster Events

Signs that Adults Need Stress Management Assistance

Ways to Ease the Stress

Things to Remember When Trying to Understand Disaster Events

  • No one who sees a disaster is untouched by it.
  • It is normal to feel anxious about you and your family's safety.
  • Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
  • Acknowledging our feelings helps us recover.
  • Focusing on our strengths and abilities will help you to heal.
  • Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.
  • We each have different needs and different ways of coping.
  • It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain. However, nothing good is accomplished by hateful language or actions.

Signs that Adults Need Stress Management Assistance

  • Difficulty communicating thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Easily frustrated
  • Increased use of drugs/alcohol
  • Limited attention span
  • Poor work performance
  • Headaches/stomach problems
  • Tunnel vision/muffled hearing
  • Colds or flu-like symptoms.
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reluctance to leave home
  • Depression, sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Mood-swings
  • Crying easily
  • Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt
  • Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone

Ways to Ease the Stress

  • Talk with someone about your feelings– anger, sorrow, and other emotions-- even though it may be difficult.
  • Don't hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel that you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
  • Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by staying active in your daily life patterns or by adjusting them. This healthy outlook will help yourself and your family. (i.e. healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, meditation.)
  • Maintain a normal household and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities of yourself and your family.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Participate in memorials, rituals, and use of symbols as a way to express feelings.
  • Use existing supports groups of family, friends, and church.
  • Establish a family emergency plan. Feeling that there is something that you can do can be very comforting.

* When to Seek Help: If self help strategies are not helping or you find that you are using drugs/alcohol in order to cope, you may wish to seek outside or professional assistance with your stress symptoms.



For more information contact:
Name:  Wendy Hastings
Title:  Director
Office:  LTS EMS Council
Voice:  570-433-4461


Last Updated: 5/16/2017 4:40 PM
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