The Best Approach to Crisis Intervention
Chumley, Steven L.
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First responders protect and serve. They maintain order, prevent chaos, and keep this country safe and secure. Many of the freedoms enjoyed today are the result of U.S. first responders protecting and caring for U.S. citizens. Whether it is a terrorists attack, a criminal victimizing a citizen, or a natural disaster, first responders will be among the first on the scene to deal with the crisis. For this reason, their role in homeland security is so critical. Traumatic stress experienced by first responders may impact their ability to function and handle the next critical incident, as well as obstruct public safety agencies in maintaining a robust and resilient workforce. As a result, leaders of first responder organizations need methods to recognize the different levels of stress their employees are experiencing and identify ways they can support their officers and minimize long-term effects of stress, including absenteeism, early resignation/retirement, depression, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and suicide. Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is the standard clinical practice most widely utilized by public safety agencies in crisis interventions. CISM is designed to mitigate stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Another technique to help the traumatized, now emerging as a preferred response in crisis interventions, is Psychological First Aid (PFA). The empirical evidence is examined comparing CISM and PFA in an attempt to determine the best care for first responders. Another valuable tool examined, and sometimes overlooked as a crisis intervention tool, is the role of trained chaplains in disaster care. The author has responded to numerous traumatic incidents and witnessed firsthand the effects trauma has on first responders. As a result of witnessing the lack of care CISM provides, he was inspired to research and find the best approach to crisis interventions. PFA and trained chaplains may be the answer; however, the author also desires that this paper inspire and challenge other agencies to invest, conduct further research, and ultimately, find the best approach to crisis interventions.
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