The Sullivan County CISM Response Team
Sullivan BOCES, working in conjunction with school districts in Sullivan County, has organized a Countywide School CISM Team to respond to the needs of students and staff in the event of a critical incident. Team members include school personnel who have been trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). CISM is a standardized and internationally recognized process designed to:
- lessen the impact of major events on students and staff, and
- accelerate the recovery of people who are experiencing high levels of stress after a critical incident.
Teams are activated when district superintendents determine a need and request assistance through the BOC ES Superintendent.
Critical Incident Stress
Critical Incident: “Any situation faced by any person that causes them to experience unusually strong reactions that have the potential to interfere with their lives.” Jeffrey T. Mitchell, PhD
Coping with Stress After a Critical Incident
When you experience a traumatic event or a critical incident, you may experience strong emotional or physical reactions. It is quite normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks hours, days or even months after a horrible event. Below are suggestions for coping with these stress reactions. Remember that occasionally the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This is not a sign of weakness, but indicates that the event was too powerful for you to manage by yourself. The back of this handout lists resources for confidential counseling.
Self Care after a Critical Incident
- Talk to people-talk is the most healing medicine.
- Alternate periods of relaxation with appropriate physical exercise.
- Structure your time-keep busy.
- Remember that you are normal and having normal reactions to an abnormal event.
- Don’t try to numb pain with alcohol and drugs; it will only complicate problems.
- Reach out-people do care.
- Maintain as normal a schedule as possible.
- Spend time with others.
- Check on others who shared your experience and see how they are doing.
- Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others.
- Keep a journal-write away those sleepless hours.
- Do things that feel good to you.
- Realize that those around you are under stress.
- Don’t make any big life changes.
- Get plenty of rest and eat regular, well-balanced meals.
- Make small daily decisions that will give you a feeling of control in your life.
- Understand that recurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal. Don’t fight them-they will decrease over time and become less painful.
Some Symptoms of a Stress Reaction
- High level of anxiety
- Increased absenteeism
- Feeling of apathy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling of isolation
- Poor communication skills
- Poor concentration
- Confused thinking
- Calculation difficulty
- Increased alcohol use
- Poor problem solving
- Dizziness or weakness
- Intense anger
- Chest pains