What are the protocols or steps that you guys use to deal with Critical Incident stress in your organization? I recently attended a call with a fairly green team member that didn't have a positive outcome. One team member was pretty shaken by the event, and for me it was interesting to see the process that the organization I was volunteering with took to ensure the mental health of those involved.
What do you guys do? Debrief? Routine?
What have you noticed in yourself when responding to a potential incident? Both before, during and after?
What have you found helpful? Hurtful?
For my 2 cents, the volunteer organization took things very seriously. We had a debrief set up within a day to review the situation with included a lot of tire pumping for the members. It is always nice to hear your work thought well of by other professionals. One of the gentlemen assisting with the debrief was a ACP (Advanced Care Paramedic) who was also a veteran. He even brought along his service animal which is trained to assist with Post Traumatic Stress. That was a first for me, but honestly with my dogs at home it definitely makes sense. I think it helped one of the team members immensely. Other than that there were buddy checks happening within the organization and I took some time to talk to others. I think this is first time that I have had the opportunity to fully engage in a debrief like this one. I think my other half definitely liked that I did. Many times in the past I would deal with things on my own, and I can say that is a categorically ineffective plan.
One thing I have noticed myself doing lately is actually mentally preparing for the events more. I recently worked my way though On Combat and it definitely changed my mindset about several things. It also helped me to notice a few things, namely visual and auditory exclusions. My brain filtered a lot of unnecessary information out and keyed into important details with pin point accuracy. It made capturing important details for the reports later pretty handy. Afterwards I definitely was more open to what was coming after doing some of the reading (like On Combat) on Incident stress which I think made a big difference. In the past I would usually just try and man up and push through it. I would say that having a better mind set walking into the situation and understanding the after effects more has definitely made big differences into my responses.
I would say if you haven't read On Combat and you work in any kind of First Response, you should definitely make some time for that book. It's probably been one of my top reads of the past year.