EMS World

FEB 2019

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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46 FEBRUARY 2019 | EMSWORLD.com LEGISLATION & POLICY A fter that guy got mangled in the spinning auger: "I wonder if he was listening to 'Twist and Shout' by the Beatles when it happened." "He failed the morning safety drill!" Af ter another guy got mangled in a giant meat grinder: "He had to quit, that job was a grind!" "I hope that doesn't end up in the chuck wagon at the station." "He said he would meat his boss half way on safet y measures!" "He really threw himself fully into his work." Yes, a fair number of folks seem to get mangled, maimed, throt tled, and just downright dead where I work and likely in your area too. We've all struggled to make sense of what we've seen, the stuff you can't unsee. Later the adrena- line wears off, the jokes are slightly less funny, and we stuff that nasty crap down deep till we think it's out of sight. Years ago we called that doing what you had to do. We said to each other, "Suck it up, buttercup!" Unfortunately it could come roaring back with a vengeance. The beast in me might yell at my wife about how she hadn't done squat to mind our home during my 27-hour absence when really she held our household and me together. Maybe the beast would drink too much scotch or have a long bicycle ride and a bold, unexpected cry that could only end in a pitiful whimper born of complete exhaustion. I'm sure many of you have adjusted your expectations a bit. Does anyone in EMS still think the "suck it up, buttercup!" option is better than peer support? Let's hope not. I'm not going to bore you with a CE- appropriate lecture on what peer sup- por t is. What I can share with you are some of our experiences developing a peer-support team at Williamson County EMS in Texas. Getting Started Let's start with some basics. We initiated our team with eight members in 2015 after a series of our peers lost their jobs, families, and in one case attempted an early departure from mortality. Our team leader, Cdr. Tom Watson, began by ensur- ing our team was trained with a variety of courses like Mental Health First Aid, Group Crisis Inter vention, and Assisting Individuals in Crisis. Mentors from around central Texas included experts on PTSD, licensed counselors, and clergy present- ing mostly secular approaches to assisting others. Our department funds retraining on these classes every other year. We also seek out opportunities on our own at con- ferences like EMS World Expo. The WCEMS way of p eer supp or t was never intended to replace licensed counselors or any other valued noggin- shrinker. Recognizing issues by providing a safe space and timely link to the pros has always been the goal. After learning new skills, many of us wrestled with the By Dan Cohen BEING THE BRIDGE: PEER SUPPORT IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY A Texas service tries outreach after traumatic calls to keep its personnel whole A strong messaging campaign spread awareness of the support resources available to Williamson County EMS providers. Photo: Dan Cohen

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