[an error occurred while processing this directive] Oakland Fire CISM Team [an error occurred while processing this directive] Critical Incident
Stress Management Team [an error occurred while processing this directive] "Behind our uniforms, we are all just human beings."


Positive response to critical incidents

I am very proud to be supporting Oakland Fire Department's Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM). I have been working with an organization in the south bay called the Centre for Living with Dying. It is a comprehensive grief counseling agency providing support, intervention and education to civilians and emergency service professionals faced with dying, death, grief, trauma or loss. In the past 26 years of our existence, we have served over 1,000,000 people. 19 years ago, we founded the Bay Area CISM Team, a multidisciplinary response team made up of firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers, police officers, emergency room nurses and mental health professionals dedicated to offering intervention and education to emergency response professionals after a critical incident. The Bay Area CISM Team has helped to develop department teams in other cities and counties.

The OFD CISM Team is a powerful resource that has been underutilized in the past. Our goal is to strengthen and fortify the Team to provide much needed support to all employees of Oakland Fire. The OFD CISM Team has a cadre of highly trained peers on each shift - for a total of 50 firefighters and dispatchers. These teams meet once a month for update training and team strengthening. Given the many difficult calls and responses, we have found that the best support can come from a trained peer who understands your job. The definition of a critical incident is any incident that causes unusually strong reactions in the responding personnel, either immediately or after. The OFD CISM Team has already done this important work - responding with Critical Incident Defusings, Debriefings and Follow-up check-ins. In response to fire fatalities and other critical incidents in the community, the Team has proven its ability to give immediate and effective support. In certain incidents, this has also included intervention for the community - both individually and in a group setting. The Team has provided community/neighborhood debriefings after a fire fatality. Their efforts were well received and appreciated. Most recently, faced with the tragic events on September 11th, as well as the unbelievably traumatic death of beloved veteran firefighter of 29 years, Burl Smith, the OFD Team has actively responded in many different ways. In a collaborative effort with Alameda County Fire Department, OFD Team has offered support to the USAR Team, as well as their families.

Janet Childs
Centre for Living With Dying

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