Professional M.H. Intervention: Making the hand-off

Whenever there is a serious call of any kind, we review the incident..  We will attempt to weigh the seriousness and potential impact on law enforcement officers.  We will contact our CISM  Team members who may work in the district involved (they’d be more familiar with the officers) and obtain an assessment from them.  We will also contact supervisors that responded to get their impression of how the incident may have impacted their officers.  After a careful review, we will decide on whether or not we conduct a debriefing.  Sometimes (on rare occasion, we will contact the officers directly (the officers that were involved in the incident).  However, we try not to do that, because we don’t want them to try to debrief the incident over the phone (officers will naturally start talking about the incident over the phone and we don’t want that), but sometimes you need to go directly to the source.   Cumulative trauma extends beyond shootings and other “critical incidents,” however. Among cumulative trauma are the days and nights of being cursed and shouted at, listening to the screams, viewing dead bodies, and the momentary scares and fears that go along with law enforcement. These are the “bumblebee stings” that add up; one or two may be tolerable but, as they add up, the pain increases to the breaking point—and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Line of Duty Deaths
  • Suicide of a colleague
  • Serious work-related bodily injury
  • Multi-casualty/disaster/terrorism incident
  • Incident with high degree of threat to personnel
  • Significant events involving children
  • Events in which the victim(s) are known to personnel
  • Events with excessive media interest or scrutiny
  • Events that are prolonged that end with a negative outcome (failed CPR)
Any significantly powerful, overwhelming or distressing event when any incident such as the above occurs, we will be notified by our Operations Division and or CISM Team members and or rank and file officers, soon after the incident.  These incidents will always elicit a response of some sort (these are all “Mitchell Model”events).  After investigating, we make a determination on how to proceed;whether it calls for a Debriefing, a 1 on 1 with a trained peer counselor, a critial incident diffusing, a recommendation for clinical services, OnSite Academy, McLean Hospital, sometimes no action will be taken at all, but there will definitely be a response (as in an investigation and careful thought), etc.  We take many criteria into consideration when we make our determination.  What other officers have informed us about the involved officer, how long the involved officer has been on the job, what other incidents the officer has been involved in, the officers personality, who was with him/her during the incident, how gory the incident may have been, any external issues etc.   We almost never make a final determination until we have consulted with one of our clinicians.

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