By Alice Franks-Gray
I have been following discussion groups on social media around CISM. The discussion has been particularly lively at the LinkedIn discussion group sites. For LinkedIn members there are three discussion groups, two of which have new discussion posts every 1-2 weeks:
Critical Incident Stress Caregivers – 1,281 members
EAP Critical Incident Response – 1,279 members
I have noticed that some of the same discussion questions appear at both the “EAP” and “Caregivers” locations; both seem to share some of the same participants. The backgrounds and experiences of those responding to questions and comments posted there are broadly diverse and represent mental health and EAP providers, and uniformed services (both first response and military). A flaw of this form of information is (absent an active moderator) anyone can say anything. Given enough reported letters behind a last name, anyone can present as an ‘expert,’ and this allows biased individuals to appear as credible resources. Unbiased information is needed to make the most informed decisions when navigating the complex issues of critical incident response, particularly for those “in harm’s way.”
Some background: In 1984 I lived in a rural Wisconsin community where the mentally ill son of two local EMTs stabbed his teenaged sister to death in the family home. His intention was to kill his parents as well, but after slicing into his sister 32 times and leaving her body in a basement closet, he walked to a local church and confessed his act to a priest. The couple returned home, after a social evening with friends, to find their property a crime scene. The deceased young woman was a regular babysitter for the children of local emergency services personnel, was well-known and popular in the community. The aftermath of this incident had a profound impact upon the local emergency services community; 50% of the emergency services personnel in the community had or would leave uniformed service within four years of the murder. There were a number for divorces, substance abuse issues with those who remained and the level of staffing for the ambulance was very thin. This was one catalyst for my involvement in CISM and my continuing education in psychology.
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