(Bannock County Press Release, March 29, 2022; Cover Photo Credit: Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, FB)
Local first responders are forming a support team to help each other recover from traumatic incidents.
The Bannock County Office of Emergency Management is partnering with the Greater Idaho Healthcare Coalition to host a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) training. The ultimate goal of the training is to establish a regional CISM Team to provide support to first responders who encounter traumatic events while on the job.
“First responders are there for us on our worst days, no questions asked. Now it’s our turn to support them and make sure they have the tools they need to not let these demanding jobs wear on their mental health,” said Wes Jones, Director of the Bannock County Office of Emergency Management.
The CISM Team will use a peer support system to help mitigate the impact of a traumatic event, accelerate the recovery process, and find additional support services if needed. They will serve not only their fellow first responders, but also members of the public who have experienced a crisis, trauma, or tragedy.
Eighty first responders from the Bannock County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the Greater Idaho Healthcare Coalition, and several public safety organizations throughout the region are attending the initial course.
Those who complete the course will be part of the volunteer CISM Team, which will be based out of Bannock County and can support the region as requested.
“We chose to establish this as a regional program in order to share resources, minimize expenses, and capitalize on the outcomes,” Jones said. “This is meant to be a resource for our entire community, not just one agency.”
Training will be held May 10-12 at Idaho State University’s Disaster Response Complex at 1257 South 2nd Avenue in Pocatello.
The course is part of Bannock County’s ongoing effort to partner with ISU in forming a Regional Emergency Operations Center.
The Bannock County Office of Emergency Management plans to offer this course regularly to area and regional first responders. Annual refresher courses, as well as advanced and specialized courses, will be offered as well.
Bannock County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jason “Mack” Mackrill, who helped launch the training, describes the program as a way to “rescue the rescuers.”
“Because of the dangerous nature of their jobs, our first responders are regularly exposed to traumatic events. The CISM peer-support model will help keep our rescuers mentally and emotionally healthy, so they can continue to keep us safe,” Mack said.
More about CISM:
Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM, is an intervention protocol developed specifically for dealing with traumatic events. It is a formal, highly structured and professionally recognized process for helping those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, vent emotions, learn about stress reactions and symptoms and given referral for further help if required. It is not psychotherapy. It is a confidential, voluntary and educative process, sometimes called ‘psychological first aid’.
First developed for use with military combat veterans and then civilian first responders (police, fire, ambulance, emergency workers and disaster rescuers), it has now been adapted and used virtually everywhere there is a need to address traumatic impact in people’s lives.