By Bruce Ramsay-CTR, TFT,-Adv., Certified Traumatologist , Long Time ICISF Approved Instructor
I was introduced to Critical Incident Stress Management when I attended a training in Alberta, Canada that was taught by Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell. This was in 1988. At the time I was a Captain in the training division of my fire department-District of North Vancouver, BC Canada. I thought it might be interesting as I had always had an interest in psychology. It was far more than interesting. I sat with my mouth open for two days as Dr. Mitchell explained normal response to trauma. I had no idea I was a trauma survivor. I had witnessed the death of nine former co-workers when I attended a fire at a grain elevator where I had worked for several years right out of high school. I did know that my life was a wreck at the time. I had suffered depression and suicidal ideation for years and simply thought I was “losing it”-more accurately that I had “lost it”. I spoke with Dr. Mitchell after the training and I told him that. He assured me I was acting normally but was kind enough to spend time with me and to ask about symptoms. In that discussion I confessed that I was in fact suicidal. Through his intervention, caring and support, I slowly began to realize that I was in fact normal but had been highly traumatized in my fire department career which at that time spanned just over nine years. CISM and particularly the kindness of Dr. Mitchell saved my life and started me on treatment and recovery.
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