It is a stressful time in the world. Lots of things have been happening: home purchases, home sales, families moving, families growing, 2020 elections, COVID, and work in general. 2020 has been a year like no other and we need to accept that we are all experiencing emotions we had not planned on.
This is a friendly reminder of a resource available to help maintain our behavioral health wellness. The San Mateo County Critical Incident Stress Management Team continues to stand ready to assist Public Safety Organizations and Individuals. Please post and share to help those you work with. Here is a little background on who we are and how to reach us.
My name is John Warren, retired Battalion Chief from the San Mateo Fire Department and the Program Coordinator for the San Mateo County CISM Team. I was also a founding board member for the San Mateo County Chaplaincy. I am making an assumption you have an understanding of what CISM is, its benefits in maintaining healthy employees, and the sensitivities surrounding confidentiality and peer support. We pride ourselves on the confidential, trust-based relationship we have developed for nearly 30 years. Training on CISM services is available at no cost to all local Fire, Dispatch, and Law Enforcement meetings. Here's who we are:
First, the CISM Team is comprised of approx. 30 public safety members (current and retired) delivering individual peer support services, on-scene defusing’s and post-incident debriefings. Membership includes a professional clinician and a chaplain. Training is provided locally and through courses offered at a team sponsored an annual international training conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area. The team is registered through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and conforms to the United Nations and US Military practice of utilizing the “Mitchell Model” of assistance delivery. The San Mateo County Team is structured as a 501 (3)c charity and 100% of all donations are utilized to support our clients and training for team members. As such, we utilize a board of directors and operate as a California Corporation. In reality, this merely allows us to function in support of our peers and establishes our policies and procedures.
We are supported by the San Mateo County Police and Fire Chief’s Associations and within the county organizational model, originally fell under the auspices of the County Health Department, specifically the Emergency Medical Division. As Part of county operations, we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are available for groups and individuals at no cost. Policies for team activation both required and voluntary exist in the County Policy manuals available on-line to all personnel. Although we can be contacted directly, one phone call to the county dispatch center activates a “call out page” to a call out coordinator (1 of 3) who will normally respond to the requestor (whether an individual or an agency) within 15 minutes. Upon acquiring an understanding of the request, agency, or individual needs, we assign CISM responders to facilitate the contact with peers at times and locations specified by the requestor. (Criteria exist county-wide for mandatory setup for a debrief which can be modified as needed. Death/major injury of a Peer, Spouse, Child are a few of the types of incidents requiring our team activation). Additionally, we maintain a website ( https://www.san-mateo-county-cism.org/ ) for information regarding what we do and reference materials to assist individuals.
We have established relationships with other California Teams and routinely share resources under a “mutual aid” precedent whereby we assist other teams at or in planning to support larger incidents.
Our team has been utilized for larger incidents including FEMA Task Forces returning from deployments, officer-involved shootings, officer deaths, San Bruno Gas Line Explosion, Asiana Aircraft crash, hostage events and medical emergencies.
We currently provide service to 18 fire agencies, 22 law enforcement agencies, multiple dispatch centers, 5 hospital emergency rooms, Coroner's Office and American Medical Response (Ambulance/Paramedic provider).
~ John Warren
How local agencies respond to firefighter suicides outpacing line of duty deaths
by Shah Ahmad - Thursday, July 16th 2020
Thinking about our CISM Team Members - Just wanted you all to know you're in my thoughts and I know in one way or another you are all making a positive difference for our peers. Found this article when you get a chance to review. Just reminding you that we all need to keep our eyes open.... The article came from a Fire Journal, but the message relates to all Public Safety job descriptions and all ranks. ~ Jody
The Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday, May 19, will proclaim the week of May 17 – 23, 2020 as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week and pay special tribute to the emergency medical services professionals for their heroism as critical to the current fight against COVID-19.
The emergency medical services system consists of first responders, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, trained members of the public, and other out of hospital medical care providers, educators and leadership. They provide a vital public service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the resolution, the Board cites EMS professionals as integral to the “Chain of Survival” serving on health care’s front line, often working long hours, under difficult situations in which they frequently risk their own health and safety to care for others.
See the resolution https://bit.ly/3bN9VBL
The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is funding a research project called HERO (heroesresearch.org). This study addresses the needs of healthcare workers on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes all workers employed where patient care occurs.
HERO has 3 main goals:
WHY & HOW TO SIGN UP
A major Stanford engagement could be helpful to understand the impact and burden the pandemic has had on healthcare workers nationally and locally. It will allow you to contribute your experiences and challenges to better inform future research projects.
Stanford Medicine leadership is not involved in the study and your participation is entirely voluntary.
There is no cost to join and it takes only a few minutes to sign up. You can use a work email address, Gmail address, or another email address: heroesresearch.org
Thanks for all you are doing to care for our patients.
Kenneth Mahaffey, MD,
Professor, Cardiovascular Medicine Associate Dean, Clinical Research, School of Medicine Vice Chair, Clinical Research, Department of Medicine Director, Stanford Center for Clinical Research (SCCR)
300 Pasteur Drive, Grant S-102 Stanford, CA 94305
San Mateo County CISM Team – March 2020
John Warren, Program Coordinator
The way Public Safety Personnel respond to pressure, call it stress, is a condition that all humans experience. Unfortunately, we often find that we are reluctant to reveal our true feelings and emotions while “on the job” or to our family members. We want to protect others and our loved ones from what we accept as the ugly parts of our job. The younger ones among us often are more open and honest about sharing thoughts and feelings; the rest of us are coming to accept that talking helps. It's ok to be human. Talking relieves stress, builds friendships and trust while making work more worthwhile. We’re past the days of having to “Stuff it” or “Tough it out”.
We have all been impacted and touched by the cluster of traumatic events in our recent history. We may have been reminded of other events of loss and trauma that we have survived. We may feel vulnerable, helpless, out of control, sad, angry, guilty – or simply numb, disconnected and distant. We may be moved to tears by the outpouring of support or frustrated we can’t do more. We may sense that our personal trauma is not as important, as the events of major disasters or large-scale traumas. The events in our world continue to overshadow individual experiences of loss.
Our daily experience has dramatically changed. Our unpredictable reactions are natural and normal, even though it can feel crazy and out of control. We may take a look at who and what is meaningful. What we have taken for granted in the past is suddenly more precious. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Taking one moment at a time and honoring our unique and personal truth is the road to healing. Although we can never make it better, we can support each other through the long, sometimes difficult road to recovery.