EMS World

DEC 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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Page 64 of 83

64 DECEMBER 2018 | EMSWORLD.com PROVIDER WELLNESS MARC's Regional Homeland Security Coor- dinating Committee, emergency ser vices agencies across the region are working together to advance the region's ability to respond to and recover from intentional attacks that result in casualties and fatali- ties among either civilians or responders. One goal of this work is to strengthen our capacity to help those affected by these incident s, including sur vivors, families, responding a genc y personnel, and the community as a whole. From recent line-of-dut y deaths and injurie s experienced by local a gencie s to lessons learned from attacks in other parts of the countr y, there is a heightened awareness of the toll these types of inci- dents take on all involved, including com- mand staff. The idea of building a regional capabilit y around command staf f peer- suppor t training resonated with leaders in fire, law enforcement, and emergency medical ser vices. "We know the responsibilities a com- mander faces during a large-scale event can b e excruciating ," s ays Erin Ly nch, MARC's e m e r ge n c y s e r v i ce s p ro gram director. "If we can provide training and tools to help commanders in events such as officer-involved shootings and line-of- duty deaths, they will be in a much stron- ger position to respond to large-scale, complex incidents." The pilot, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is testing the feasibil- ity and functionality of a command-level peer-support program. A 12-person group consisting of senior-level police, fire, and EMS staff, along with their union and Fra- ternal Order of Police presidents, worked with local psychologist Jennifer Prohaska, PhD, to customize training that addresses the unique challenges and stressors faced by command-level first responders. Her work has involved both the design of the training and guidance on its effectiveness. "The feedback from participants in this initial training cadre has been powerful," says Lynch. "Having a systematic way to provide command-level peer suppor t to one another upon request increases the collective resiliency of our emergency ser- vices community." Prohaska has years of experience help- ing individuals and response professionals cope with trauma. "It's a common misper- ception that once men and women take on more administrative roles and leave the field, they become immune to major traumatic stress. That simply isn't true," she says. "By the time commanders reach that point in their careers, they could have 20-plus years of accumulated stress and trauma from working on the front lines, plus the added burden of chronic stress that comes with command responsibili- ties." Training modules in the pilot program cover tool s for dealing with command stress, PTSD in first responders, suicide risk and a ssessment, resilience among command-level first responders, practical applications of knowledge, and critical- incident stress debriefing scenarios. Inter- national Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) guidelines and state-level peer- support legislation are also incorporated. After completing their training, the pilot program's first 12 participants formed the Command Level Peer Support Team, a rov- ing crew that stands ready to both respond to formally scheduled critical incident stress debriefing s (CISDs) and provide individual assistance to commanders in times of crisis. Since the group's inception in July, members have already been asked to deploy 11 times to incidents involving suicide, of ficer-involved shootings, and death within their own agencies as well as others inside and outside the nine-county MARC region. A Niche Often Missed The Command Level Peer Support Team is modeled after a successful 9-1-1 Peer Sup- port Team for dispatchers. Dispatching is and always has been a stressful job. But as we implement next-generation 9-1-1, dispatch- ers won't just be hearing traumatic events take place through their headsets. They'll also be seeing these events unfold through photos and video. We expect that may have a much greater impact on their mental well- being. Since its formation in January 2018, the 9-1-1 Peer Support Team has deployed 30 times to support fellow dispatchers by attending CISDs. The peer-suppor t teams fill a niche often missed by typical employee assis- tance programs (EAPs) or depar tment psychologists or chaplains. Peer support can be immediate, right af ter a call or even while still on the scene. Peers per- form the same job and often understand each other's stress in ways someone on the outside cannot. Peer-suppor t training augments other par ts of an overall mental wellness pro- gram within an agency but is not intended to replace professional help. MARC's peer- support program is proactive and preven- tive, helping identif y problems immediate- ly after an incident, before serious trouble develops. Team members are trained to provide accessible, prac tical, and des- Missouri • Lt. Matt Kellogg, Liberty Police Department • Maj. Darren Ivey, Kansas City Police Department • Lt. Aly Abdelgawad, Raymore Police Department • Ret. Chief Carl Tripp, Kansas City Fire Department • Director of Safety Joe Coons, LifeFlight Eagle • Capt. Everett Babcock, Kansas City Police Department • Battalion Chief Arby Todd, Lee's Summit Fire Department Kansas • EMS Chief Paul Davis, Johnson County Med-Act • Battalion Chief Morris Letcher, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department • Maj. Wade Lanphear, Olathe Police Department • Sheri Andy Dedeke, Leavenworth County Sheri 's O ce • Sheri Frank Kelly, Miami County Sheri 's O ce Command Level Peer Support Team Founding Members

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