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Human Resources Division

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Behavioral Health Component of the Wellness-Fitness Initiative

A joint labor-management project of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and IAFF Local 1664 Please include a contact number and return e-mail address

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- CISM Index -

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Mission Statement
  • Introduction
  • What to Expect
  • Debriefing
  • Defusing

Critical Incident Stress Management Team

  • When To Activate
  • How To Activate
  • Consult a Peer for a Non-Crisis Situation
  • How To Join
Potential Risk Factors
  • Coping Styles Used By Those Grieving
  • Warning Signs of Suicide
  • Distorted Thinking Styles
  • Steps Which May Progress To Suicide

CISM Team Members

CISM Team Member Site

Other Counseling Options

Additional Resources

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- Mission Statement -

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The Montgomery County Department of Fire/Rescue Services Critical Incident Stress Management Team provides stress management education, debriefings, defusings, and demobilizations. The team also provides one on one support for MCFRS personnel and their families at no cost, in response to incidents of a critical nature or during other stressful periods. Team members are drawn from the service, both career and volunteer, civilian and uniformed. All members are trained to national standards. The focus of this service is to minimize the harmful effects of our job, particularly in crisis or emergency situations. The highest priorities of the Team are placed on confidentiality and respect for the feelings of the individuals involved. It is not the function of the team to replace on-going professional counseling, but to provide stress management education and immediate crisis intervention.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service recognizes that Critical Incident Stress may have a negative impact on service personnel and their loved ones unless it is effectively addressed through a variety of resources. A system must be in place to deal with the stress of emergency responses both pre-incident and post-incident. Through a joint labor and management initiative several areas of action have been identified to assure that we have a program in place to provide the best support available to all personnel. We should not consider this a program for either labor or management, career or volunteer – it is a firefighter/rescuer program to help one another.


The program is strictly voluntary; no one is forced to attend any portion of a defusing, debriefing or one on one. We highly encourage everyone to be involved, sharing your experiences and feelings about an incident can often help others. Fire/Rescue personnel are relieved once they recognize that other fire fighters have similar thoughts and feelings.

Only those involved in the incident can attend. During the meeting each person is treated equally regardless of rank or time in service. Confidentiality is strictly enforced and note taking is not allowed. The CISM team is not obligated to discuss the outcome of each meeting

Listed below is an outline of a debriefing, defusing and one on one.

DEBRIEFING: Occurs up to 72 hrs. after an incident.

  1. Introduction - Introduce team members, explain the rules, and agenda
  2. Fact Phase - Each person describes the event from his or her own perspective.
  3. Thought Phase - Describe your first thoughts, how you felt. What effected you the most?
  4. Reaction Phase - Identify all emotional responses and what was the most traumatic aspect.
  5. Symptom Phase - Identify possible symptoms & symptoms of a stress reaction
  6. Teaching Phase - Identify all the reactions are normal and is a coping mechanism.
  7. Re-Entry Phase - Distribute information and answer any questions

DEFUSING - Occurs immediately, or within 8 hours of an incident. A defusing is a condensed version of a debriefing, lasting up to 1 hour.

  1. Introduction - Introduce team members, & review the process.
  2. Exploration - Discuss the incident via the rescuers, review the facts, thoughts and their reactions.
  3. Information - Recognize that all reaction's are normal and review the signs & symptoms of a stress reaction.

ONE ON ONE A Defusing with one rescuer and one CISM member.


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