What can be done?

What can be done?

The most important thing is to realize that the symptoms of Critical Incident Stress are normal reactions to an abnormal event. Do not be hard on yourself or others. Talking to peers about the incident and stress reactions is very helpful.

Supports we offer:

Pre-incident education - An educational session on critical incident stress for fire department members and their families to provide an overview of Critical Incident Stress, management tools, stress resistance, and crisis mitigation.

On Scene support - Assistance on scene or at command centers during prolonged incidents.

Defusing - A brief group meeting within 24 hours following a critical incident for on-scene emergency personnel.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) - This intervention is conducted by a team consisting of professional mental health counsellors and peer firefighters trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). During the session, participants are able to talk about what happened, their thoughts and reactions about the incident and what symptoms of Critical Incident Stress (CIS) they may be having. Education and strategies on how to cope with CIS are provided.

One-to-One Interventions

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to provide one-on-one interventions, often following a formal debriefing. Depending on the circumstance, these would be conducted by a mental health professional although peers are trained in this technique and may provide an initial support to the emergency responder with follow up / referral to a mental health professional as needed.

 Crisis Management Briefings (CMB)

The main purpose of a CMB is to the provide relevant information, dispel rumors, guidance, and instructions regarding a traumatic event. It can be delivered to small or large groups that can be open to the community. A CMB is usually led by two (2) team members and may involve other officials, as appropriate.


CMBs can be offered during an incident, especially if it is prolonged, and as often as is necessary when updates are available. It is also used to convey information about the incident after its conclusion.


Post Intervention Services

The CISM team leader will follow up, usually a week after an intervention, with the leader of the recipient group, or the individual in the case of a one-on-one intervention. The purpose is to ascertain the wellness of the group/individual and determine if any further assistance is needed. If further assistance is required, the Team Leader will identify follow-up services that are available. Follow-up services are often accessed through workplace Employee Assistance or other Human Resource programs. In the event that a firefighter does not have access to such mental health supports, the CISMT has a contingency fund to support a firefighter to access appropriate mental health services.