Any situation faced by Emergency Services Personnel that causes them to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with their ability at the scene or later, generates unusually strong feelings in the emergency service workers.
Emergency service workers consist of those individuals in service to their communities (volunteer or career) as Firefighters, Police Officers, EMS, Nurses, Dispatchers, Emergency Management Personnel and others
A Critical Incident is defined as any event with sufficient emotional reactions in people now or later. It is an event which is considered generally outside the range of ordinary human experiences. The incident may be the foundation for PTSD if it is not resolved effectively and quickly.
When emergency personnel experience significant stress from CIS, the following steps may help reduce the stress until the incident is over or until a trained CISM team is located
Limit exposure to sights, sounds, odors,
Provide an immediate rest break for 15 minute
Have a friend stay with the distressed person
Provide fluids, non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated
Provide foods low in salt, sugar and fat
Allow the person to talk about the experience
Do not rush the person to return to work
Protect the person from bystanders and MEDIA
Reassure the person that the stress experience is normal, most people recover well from stress
Show appreciation for the person's work
Do nothing to embarass the person
Help the person make decisions
Within the first 24-48 hrs, periods of strenuous physical exercise, alternated with relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions Structure your time--keep busy You are normal having a normal reaction--do not label yourself as CRAZY Talk to people--talk is the best medicine Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol Reach out--PEOPLE DO CARE Maintain as normal a schedule as possible Spend time with others Help your co-workers as much as possible by sharing your feelings and checking out how they area doing Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others Keep a journal, write your way through those sleepless hours Do things that make you feel good Realize you are under stress Don't make any big life changes Do make as many daily decisions as possible which will give you a feeling of control over your life. i.e. if someone asks you want you want to eat--answer them even if you are not sure Get plenty of rest Recurring thoughts, dreams, flashbacks are normal--don't try to fight them--they will decrease over time and become less painful Eat well balanced and regular meals(even if you don't feel like it)
Spend time with the traumtized person
Offer your assistance and a listening ear, even if they have not asked for help
Reassure them that they are safe
Help them with everyday tasks like cleaning, caring for the family, etc.
Give them some private time
Don't take their anger or other feelings personally
Don't tell them that they are "LUCKY IT WASN'T WORSE"-traumatized people are not consoled by those statements. Instead tell them that you are SORRY such an event has occurred and you want to understand and assist them.
I became involved with emergency service work because there is a need for people to help others in trouble. Sometimes there are calls I respond to, however, that are difficult to talk about--even with the person I love and trust most in the world.
PLEASE ACCEPT THAT
There are, at times, experiences I suffer that hurt me very deeply, and I might bring my suffering home. Sometimes my feelings bother me so much that I can't even talk about them. Maybe it's because I don't want you to even imagine what I've suffered, or maybe it's because I'm afraid that you won't fully understand the depth of my feelings. During these times, I may become moody or irritable, and I may not seem to care much about your feelings or problems.
PLEASE ACCEPT THAT
You love me for who I am. I chose to do what I do because it is so important to me and to those I help, and although it is sometimes difficult, and maybe even dangerous, I love what I do, and I do it well. I'm proud of what I am and I hope you are proud of me. There are times, though when I feel that I didn't do enough--so many people out there depend upon me; there are times when I get frustrated and even angry with my co-workers, myself and even the victims or tragedy. There are times that the horrors I have to deal with just overwhelm me. That's when I have to sort things out, by myself, or with others who were there with me.
PLEASE ACCEPT THAT
So, please, if I have a really bad call and just can't talk, it isn't because I don't love and care for you, it's not because I doubt your love and concern for me, I'm just not ready to open up. When this happens, don't try to understand, just accept the fact that I am hurting--and that I'll talk to you when I can.
I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise, to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a youth, bending and reaching and flailing arms, dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin. As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to the bay, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pickup starfish and then standing, to heve it back into the sea. I asked the youth the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw then back into the sea." As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of the beach, stretching in both directions beyond eyesight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the youth's plan became clear to me and I countered, "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference." The boy paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, "I made a difference to that ONE."
When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice. you have not done what I have asked nor heard what I need.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin telling me that I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed-strange as that may seem.
All I asked was that you listen. Not to talk, nor do for me, just hear me. Advice is cheap. A quarter get both "Dear Abby" and astrological forecasts in the same newspaper. That I can do for myself, I'm not helpless, maybe discouraged and faltering-but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you can contribute to me seeming fearful and weak. But when you accept as a simple fact I do feel what I feel, no matter how seemingly irrational, then I quit trying to convince you and can get about to understanding what's behind, what I am saying and doing-to what I am feeling. When that's clear, chances are so will the answers be, and I won't need any advice. Or then, I'll be able to hear it.)
So, please listen
and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
let's plan for your turn,
and I promise I'll listen to YOU.