Team Coordination Challenges
A special meeting was held at the MCRA 2014 Annual Fall Conference to discuss issues confronting CISM teams and Team Coordinators. Topics discussed seemed to group into the following categories:
- Increased MCRA support for teams
- “Marketing” the importance of our work
- Team Participation issues
- Ongoing larger marketing issues for CISM and individual teams.
One issue high on the list for teams is team member retention. Retention is complicated by the nature of critical incidents and CISM response. CISM teams are only called out sporadically and for some teams, responses are rare. For various reasons, some team members may be contacted to respond rarely, if at all.
Suggestions to help teams retain members are: Regular team trainings to keep people involved, using team members as presenters on a variety of topics in team meetings, partnering with other teams in the region to assist in responses and training. It was also suggested that coordinators add additional new and/or inexperienced team members (when appropriate) to responses so that they may observe veteran team members.
Reporting team responses and activities regularly to relevant stakeholders may also help support team members at their home base. This needs to be done in a way that protects the privacy and confidentiality of response recipients.
One area that needs further exploration is how best to use social media in a way that supports team membership, recruitment, and public awareness. Let us know how your team uses social media to support your team.
Closely related to team member retention is team recruitment. Recruiting new team members is often accomplished by word of mouth. Teams who initiate presentations on CISM to first responder or other committee organizations may be able to garner both new recruits and community support. Suggested topics are team activities in your area/region, general information about CISM, and testimonials from team members. Teams that seek out and connect with community stakeholders (Mutual Aid Groups, Cross Jurisdictional Law Enforcement Groups, Unions, Intermediate School Districts, Superintendent Groups, Clergy Groups…) will likely benefit in numerous ways.
It is also helpful to provide team contact information when handing out informational materials to CISM service recipients. This allows people to reach out and perhaps join the team at a later date. It is also useful to widely publicize CISM trainings in your area. People report that CISM training is valuable whether or not they join a team. Be sure to emphasize that completing the training does NOT require they join a CISM team, so participants don’t feel like they are making a blind commitment by attending.
Developing media contacts may be a way to create more team visibility within your community. Following a critical incident, media coverage of the event that emphasizes recovery and related issues may be a place to start. It is important to impress upon a news reporter that responsible coverage is imperative and using a reporter that you know and trust is recommended.
Future issues of MCRA Connections will examine other issues facing CISM teams and team coordinators. If you have thoughts about what was offered here or other issues you would like us to look at please contact your regional representative or a member of the MCRA Connections editorial staff.
Thank you for the work you do to make your community a better place to live.