911 dispatchers are a unique group, for they are the first responders. They are the first ones to connect with the individuals or groups with an emergency need. They must take the information, figure out the need and then relay that information to the proper responders with the correct location in seconds.
There is no room for error for they are dealing with life and death situations. Like the military and their special operations individuals; they are a challenging group to gain entry into.
With the development of CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) procedure and CISM teams working with the various responder groups, the value of this to the members was being recognized. Unfortunately the dispatchers we’re not included in these groups because they were not at the scene of the incident and it was felt that they were not affected by the event.
A number of years ago, I was called in to help with a crisis that had occurred within the northern zone of the Pittsburgh call center. On the northern zone’s weekend off, the team’s group leader/mentor and his wife were killed in a tragic car crash. The crew members were unaware of the incident until reporting to work. The whole crew was impacted by the event and unable to safely work on the screens.
The Chief Administrative Officer for Allegheny County requested immediate help from Pittsburgh’s CISM team. I was available and I went in to assess the need and give them what I was trained in regarding crisis intervention.
By Jim Mc Aninch, CTR, CEAP, TFT-Dx, from the “ATFT Update”, Issue 3, Summer 2005:
A Great Crisis Intervention Tool
I am the Industrial Coordinator for Pittsburgh’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team and I have found TFT to be a very powerful tool in working with the individuals in these situations.
The principal goals of a CISM team are: (1) To reduce emotional tension. (2) To facilitate normal recovery process of normal people having normal, healthy reactions to abnormal events. (3) To identify individuals who might need additional support or referral to professionals for specific care. A CISM program is neither psychotherapy nor a substitute for psychotherapy. When I receive a call it is generally associated with a fatality at the workplace.
I first used TFT at a construction site where an individual witnessed an individual fall to his death. What created a problem for him was that he had a very similar near fatality for himself a numbers of years ago which ended up resurfacing for him creating visible anxiety for him.
I was able to have him follow me with the trauma algorithm and you were able to see the change and he was no longer feeling the anxiety from his previous fall.
The next time I had an opportunity to use TFT at an electrocution of an employee at a small company with a family type environment. I first treated them as a group using the complex trauma with anger and guilt. I also included hopelessness.
I then found that some people we’re having problems with other traumas in their past so I treated them separately.
I was able to use this procedure at a number of fatalities at a number of large industrial settings with ease and great success. My team coordinator was very skeptical at first on my using this until he was able to see the success and rapid results. The coordinator was quick to see the value in TFT and we are now planning a training for the team.
Recently, I was able to take HRV readings in addition to using the TFT protocol with very interesting results.