What is an organized approach designed to assist emergency service personnel in understanding and dealing with the effects of stress?
Critical incident debriefing.
What is one which a member or members is experiencing situations with strong emotional involvements that are generally outside the range of usual human experiences?
A critical incident.
What is a process that provides a format where personnel can discuss their fears and reactions thereby reducing stress resulting from exposure to a critical incident?
Debriefing. Debriefing is not a critique of fire department operations that occurred during the incident.
Performance issues will not be discussed during the debriefing. All debriefings are totally confidential. Debriefings may be conducted on an individual one-on-one basis or, more typically, in small groups of not more than 25 people.
What consists of mental health professionals, trained and certified in the field of stress counseling, peer counselors from the employee assistance program, the employee relations officer, the special investigations officer and representatives of local # 22?
The Philadelphia fire departments critical incident debriefing team.
In order to ensure confidentiality who will be present in the debriefing room?
Only the affected members, the mental health professionals and the EAP counselors.
What is a normal reaction to disaster/emergency operations?
Stress. It gears our bodies for immediate action and sustains us for long periods of intense and strenuous activity. However, too much stress can be harmful.
During and following disaster/emergency operations, members may experience the effects of excessive stress.
What is it called when a situation has occurred of such magnitude that its occurrence alone has the potential to affect a large percentage of the personnel present at the scene of a disaster/emergency operation?
What are examples of triggering events and may indicate the need for a critical incident debriefing?
- On duty death of a member.
- Serious injuries to members.
- Mass casualties.
- Suicide by a member.
- Death or serious injury of civilians under unusual circumstances, during fire department operations.
- Suspected contamination of members involving toxic materials.
- Extrication operations of a long duration under extreme conditions.
Whose responsibility will be to request, through the FCC, the activation of the critical incident debriefing team?
The incident commander. The IC will work in conjunction with the ERO/SIO or their designate to facilitate critical incident debriefing operations.
Who will company officers inform if they determine the need for the activation of the CID team?
The incident commander.
Company officers should monitor the members under their command and be aware of the following signs to look for during emergency conditions.
Recognition can be one of the most important steps in managing stress.
- Shaking or trembling.
- Loss of muscular coordination.
- Blurred vision.
- Respiratory difficulties.
- Paralyzing confusion, aimlessness or disorientation.
- Any of the signs of shock.
What should company officers do if any of the members under your command experience a number of signs of stress?
- Relieve the member or members from operations.
- Have members rest; have members treated for shock if indicated.
- Have someone stay with the member.
- Notify the IC, giving specific information, and the amount of members involved.
- Keep in mind that many of the signs listed also may indicate hypothermia, illness or injury, alcohol/drug use, or exposure to hazmat’s.
What will the FCC do upon request from the IC for activation of the CID team?
The FCC will notify the employee relations officer, special investigations officer and EAP staff during office hours.
When EAP is closed for business, FCC will notify the EAP staff member “on call”.
True or false? No two people react to the rigors of emergency operations in the same way?
When is the debriefing process available?
24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Debriefing, once initiated, is Mandatory for all designated members and will be done during on duty hours true or false?
True. If debriefing extends beyond the end of a shift, overtime and/or compensatory time will be approved.
Is there a follow-up session in the debriefing process?
Yes. A follow-up session will be scheduled as needed after the initial session and will also be during on duty hours.
Members requiring additional counseling through peer support group or through professional counseling can do so during on-duty time true or false?
False. They will do so during off duty time.
What should a member do if for whatever reason they feel stressed from a particular event and a critical incident debriefing was not conducted?
They can contact EAP immediately. ALL CALLS ARE COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL.
Does the PFD recognize that individual department members who suffer serious injuries, burns or trauma, may experience post-traumatic incident stress disorder?
Yes. Members will be provided the opportunity for peer counseling while off injured. As part of the recovery process, members can be directed to EAP for an initial debriefing. EAP staff will make an assessment and refer the member to the appropriate services.
All follow-up visits will be on a voluntary basis.
If a member temporarily or permanently assigned to EMS requests a debriefing as a result of any incident in which they have participated, who will they contact?
The platoon EMS office (ES – 8 or ES – 3).
One of these offices must make the official request for debriefing. These requests will be made either directly to the EAP, during normal business hours, or through the FCC during non-routine hours.
BC’s are requested to identify and maintain a listing of facilities to accommodate debriefings at various times of day or night.