By the very nature of the Fire Service’s work personnel are at risk of exposure to potentially distressing events. Physical, emotional and psychological reactions to these events are normal (and not always negative). On the majority of occasions people will be able to manage their own reactions and feelings by drawing on existing coping strategies (peer support and humour) which may work well most of the time. There is however a need, particularly for operational personnel, to understand and be aware of the potential impact that could occur from being exposed to distressing incidents, where normal coping strategies may not be satisfactory. Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority recognise the need to respond and react to the psychological requirements of personnel who become affected by exposure to these distressing events, which are termed “critical incidents”.
The CISD team will be available, not only following specific critical incidents, but also those affecting personnel through prolonged exposure to operational incidents which occur over time, or work related distressing events. A Critical incident debrief is not a stand-alone process, but part of a systematic approach to stress management, and should not be considered as an operational debrief or counselling.