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International Critical Incident Stress Foundation

For articles and information on critical incident stress, acute stress and post traumatic issues for public safety members

Frequently Asked Questions

A few Frequently asked questions:

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Does OR have any type of peer confidentiality law, most states don’t?  OR Peer Support Confidentiality law – Oregon Revised Statute 181.860 states that any emergency services provider may select and appoint public safety personnel to receive training and act as a peer support counselor for their respective agency, and/or outside agencies.  In addition to acknowledging the need for peer support for public safety personnel, the statute recognizes the importance of confidentiality, and whether or not verbal, written or recorded documentation of a counseling session is admissible in a court of law.  The statute reads that unless a person has threatened suicide, homicide, provides any information relating to the abuse of children or the elderly, or any other admission of a criminal act, counseling is confidential and not admissible into court.

What is a critical incident stress debriefing (CISD)?  A CISD is a mostly informal discussion around the facts, thoughts, and reactions of the incident.  A team leader and team members will guide participants through the discussion.  No notes are taken.  Persons not immediately involved in the incident should not participate and the team leader of the debriefing team should have the guts to remove said persons.  Some incidents require multiple debriefings.  You do not have to talk if you do not want to.  Mental health professionals (MHP) and chaplains should NOT lead a debriefing – that is the job of a team leader peer.  MHP provide education around the area of stress reactions/symptoms; chaplains should only provide a spiritual element – they should not evangelize.  All participants leading a debriefing should have specialized training (available through the Intl Critical Incident Stress Foundation).

What if my area of the state does not have a critical incident stress management (CISM) team or a trauma team?  Contact other local resources, such as OR State Police’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), the First Responder Support Network (many reps live in OR), or the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Most agencies, cities, and counties contract with a company that provides mental health services.  Most contracts allow an employee and their family members to receive free counseling (paid for by the agency); some provide 5 - 8 visits per issue (finances, relationships, etc.).  Contact your Human Resources rep for more information.  The service you receive is confidential – the only thing your employer is advised monthly is that XX number of people used XX number of visits.

Is my career over if I’m diagnosed with PTSD?  The diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is NOT a career ender – it is treatable.  As long as one’s symptoms are managed, either by way of counseling, medications, exercise, etc., living with post traumatic stress and/or the disorder is doable.  Find the right assistance to learn how to manage your symptoms.


Take Notice

If you are experiencing stress responses for five weeks or longer after an incident or after returning home from deployment; SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!!

Let’s get rid of the stigma that stops those in uniform from receiving the help
they need and deserve.

Those who work in the public safety field help more people than the average person does in a lifetime.  Sometimes it is hard to be resilient, but freakishly we keep helping others.  Become even more resilient by taking care of yourself.