By Thomas Borden
On February 2nd, 2016, I, along with 30 staff members from all disciplines across the Department of Correction participated in the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation’s training titled Group and Individual Crisis Intervention. This three-day training taught us how to provide peer support following a critical incident. Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a peer-driven, clinically supported model that is utilized to get Public Safety personnel the help they need to overcome the trauma they’ve experienced. CISM provides staff an opportunity to talk about their incident with a peer staff member in a confidential setting; should further intervention become necessary, the peer can make an appropriate referral.
CISM teams have been operating for two decades among Police, Fire, and EMS departments across the Commonwealth. They can be activated at any time to respond to a traumatic event. These events often include line of duty death, suicide of a colleague, staff assault, prolonged failed rescue, mass casualty incident, major disorders, and administrative betrayal. The Department of Correction currently utilizes the Employee Assistance Services Unit (EASU) to respond to critical incidents.
Upon completion of the course, we are certified in Group Crisis Intervention and Assisting Individuals in Crisis. Although the Department will continue to utilize team members from the EASU to respond to critical incidents, we came away from this training with a better understanding of stress management. This course supplied me with a base understanding of one of the most essential functions of the EASU and furnished me with skills that will allow me to provide support and assistance to a co-worker should the need arise.
I would like to thank the EASU for sponsoring this training and Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union (MCOFU) for providing funding. I would recommend this course to every staff member next time it is available.