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