Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Firefighters Are People, Too!

CISM Training by Chaplain Brodehl

Despite their image of America’s bravest, firefighters are human and subject to the emotional toll of seeing tragic and horrific events, sometimes on a daily basis. To ensure they don’t suffer long-term stress-related illness, Hillsboro Fire and Rescue provided training this week about Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).

Hillsboro Fire Chaplain Steve Brodehl provided the program that showed the old philosophy of “just deal with it” often resulted in emotional problems, family discord and addictions. Those add up to an untimely end to a promising career. Today’s concept of CISM is to “talk it out.” That means to discuss with fellow crew members the impact a particularly tragic call had. It could be that the child injured or killed looked like or was the same age as the firefighter’s own children that prompted the emotional impact. Whatever the reason, an open discussion around the dinner table after the call goes a long way toward alleviating the emotional impact a bad call has had.

Company officers can also organize an informal Defusing session within a few hours of the incident to help facilitate the frank and open discussion of the toll a tragic call has taken. These sessions are voluntary.

If more than a couple of crew members are still feeling impacted by a call for more than a day or two, a closed-session Debriefing can be ordered by the Chief. Attendance is mandatory. This session is led by a facilitator from outside the department who may be aided by chaplains, also from outside the department.

HFD invests heavily in training firefighters to provide the best possible service for our citizens. We want to ensure the firefighters retire mentally and physically healthy and capable of continuing to invest in their families and our community after their career as a firefighter ends.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Hillsboro Fires commitment to it's personal is exceptional. A whole person approach to a post incident event goes a long way by being prepared in advance.