Work is underway to facilitate the formation of a countywide Critical Incident Stress Management Support Team.

According to the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, a CISM Support Team implements methods to assist first responders and others involved in critical events during which they incur emotional and physical stress.

“CISM is a process that enables peers to help their peers understand problems that might occur after an event. This process also helps people prepare to continue to perform their services or in some cases return to a normal lifestyle,” ICISF’s website states.

“I think this is very important for first responders,” said McPherson Police Department Executive Sgt. Mark Brinck.

Representatives from agencies across McPherson County, including McPherson County Communications/911, McPherson Emergency Medical Services, McPherson County Sheriff’s Office, McPherson Police Department and fire departments from Galva, Marquette and McPherson have met to discuss plans for the team.

The planning meetings, which were initiated and organized by Julie McClure, Director of McPherson Emergency Management/Communications, allowed interested members to start formulating policies and procedures for the CISM Support Team, as well as identifying individuals within each agency willing to volunteer to take part.

After volunteers are selected, they will be required to complete specialized training.

While training requirement policies have not yet been finalized, volunteers for CISM Support Teams are typically asked to successfully complete courses such as Assisting Individuals in Crisis or Group Crisis Intervention Training.

Future meetings are planned to discuss establishing policy and identifying opportunities for new team members to attend training to become certified in CISM.

The McPherson Police Department currently has two certified CISM and Peer Support Team members — Brinck and Chaplain Dick Reynolds.

In the past, CISM team members have been deployed at the request of any first responder agency, or individual, who has been involved in a critical incident while on the job.

It will take a variety of resources to create and aid the operations of the CISM Support Team.

Finding volunteers who have the desire and passion to help other first responders is the first priority of forming a CISM Support Team. Being a part of the team requires volunteers to complete the required training and participate in meetings and CISM activities, in addition to their usual duties.

Financial resources will be required to meet training expenses, which may include the cost of the training, travel expenses, lodging and meals.

Physical resources to give out during crisis interventions such as handouts, pamphlets and flyers will provide a way for people to refer back to crucial information.

Initial funding for the CISM Support Team has been identified, but additional funding will be necessary to maintain the team as a viable resource to first responders in the future.

“I hope we’re able to get the team up and going and get it maintained so first responders can provide services for our communities,” Brinck said.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.