Michigan Crisis Response Association, Inc.

MCRA Connections

  March 2017

ICISF's 14th World Congress

The ICISF 14th World Congress on Stress, Trauma & Coping is scheduled for May 1-6, 2017 in Baltimore, MD.  Four board members of MCRA are presenting this year. In this issue of MCRA Connections we are sharing descriptions of these presentations. This highlights our continuing close connections to ICISF and the work that it does. If you are planning on attending this year you may want to find these presenters and further our state wide networking.
For further information about the World Congress, go to ICISF.ORG.  Also see the MCRA website for information regarding our annual Fall Conference being held September 17-19, 2017.  It is a great place to learn and connect with teams throughout Michigan and beyond.

Presentations from MCRA Board Members:

Myth Busted: We Are Not Our Uniforms, Sherry Lynn Jones
The Ostrich Conundrum: Building Community Relationships (While Retaining Super Powers), Sherry Lynn Jones
Working with Civilians in the Workplace After a Disruptive Event,   Dennis Potter

CMB: A Different Structure to Increase Effectiveness, Dennis Potter

Exploring the Efficacy of Psychological First Aid: What Does Research Tell Us? Harvey Burnett

Stress and the Safety Service Dispatcher, Anne Daws Lazar

Myth Busted:  We Are Not Our Uniforms

Emergency responders have decades of reputation declaring that it takes a unique type of person to do their jobs. Some were labeled trauma junkies, others heroes. Researchers support professional identity as including not only a duty to respond but also the unique capacity to perform those duties. Because of increasing social media scrutiny, rescuers could benefit by separating themselves from their uniforms, reducing job stressors and responsibilities when the uniform is removed. 
Making the distinction between uniformed and civilian self is not always easy. Individual subjective interpretations and conscious processing mix with preconceptions about what it means to serve communities in varying uniforms. For some, the uniform is a second skin.
Social media confers additional burdens and expectations as the public scrutinizes each responder’s photos and comments on public websites. Workplaces take an interest in photo displays from social gatherings and comments about clients and patients. Agencies might benefit from education regarding the needs of responders, how responders are affected by trauma exposures, and the blurring of lines between the profession and the person who wears the uniform.
Uniformed employees need to learn and practice intentional acts to set the job aside during off-hours. Mindfulness helps, yet personality traits, occupational identity, social learning, work experiences, and connectedness of responders continue over social gatherings. Storytelling is a powerful component of peer support, but reliving incidents can unintentionally burden other workers and cause distress, disrupting the out of uniform safe place. Separating self from the uniform complicates the ability to consider self-care.
My dissertation research for Nurses’ Occupational Trauma Exposure, Resilience, and Coping Education revealed that most of the ER RN study participants were either past or current paramedics. The medic/RNs in the study had ICISF CISM training, were well-informed about how to take care of others, yet expressed that they had no concept of how to care for themselves. A common saying among responders is that if one cannot take care of self, one cannot take care of others. This workshop will provide information and encourage discussion about off-duty separation of self and uniform, public image, and transitioning between the uniformed and civilian self.
Sherry Lynn Jones, EdD, MS, RN, FAAETS, EMTP (Ret.), MCRA Board Member, Region 2N

The Ostrich Conundrum:
Building Community Relationships
(While Retaining Super Powers)
Anyone in public service who wears a uniform has a relationship with the public. Traditionally, responders, especially police, kept an arm’s length distance, standing tall, tough, and maintaining an impenetrable image from civilians. Public opinions and expectations are woven into the uniform of the responder whether police, firefighters, EMS or paramilitary, which sometimes separates responders from their communities until emergency incidents bring them together.
We have learned that preparation, education, and training positively affect resilience and coping. Similarly, identifying strategies to partner with the community in advance of need, instead of limiting activities to post-incident responses, can enhance professional/community relations. Gaining community support often depends on portraying competency and caring.
On the road as a paramedic, in the trauma room as an RN, I became my uniform. To let go of that armor, to tuck in the superhero cape for even a moment, takes conscious intention. Old-school street folks will talk about us vs. them.  Letting go of outdated perspectives to establish a relationship with the community does not mean losing the strength within the responder image. One simply determines parameters and boundaries instead of barriers.
The wall-bridge theory of human encounters provides concepts demonstrating an empowering bridge connecting people in a healthy way, or a disempowering wall of perceived disconnect, and decreased health and well-being. The bridge leads to open communications, connectedness, strength, and empowerment. The wall may encourage perceptions of incompetence and uncaring. Tenets of the wall-bridge theory include phases of reaching out, removing the masks of anonymity, acknowledging a connection, truthfulness, and solidarity. These same tenets exist within established community alliance partnering programs between agencies and the communities they serve.
The advantages of the wall-bridge theory apply to relationships outside of medicine and nursing. Participants will benefit from the workshop by learning benefits of establishing relationships and communications for themselves, with their agencies, and with their communities. In addition to improved public and media relations, open and regular communications serve to make the community part of an ongoing mutually approachable partnership.

Sherry Lynn Jones, EdD, MS, RN, FAAETS, EMTP (Ret.)., MCRA Board Member, Region 2N

Working with Civilians in the
Workplace After a Disruptive Event
Working with civilians requires CISM team members to use the interventions somewhat differently. This workshop suggests some adjustments to our standard approach to work successfully with employees of companies affected by the disruptive event. Understanding how the needs of employees may be different is important.

Learning Objectives:

1)  Identify three elements of evidence-based best practices in critical incident response.

2)  Identify three elements of an effective consulting relationship regarding critical incidents.

3)  Develop a plan for delivering psychoeducational consultation applicable to the immediate aftermath of a critical incident.

4)  Identify two ethical or legal standards applicable to critical incident response.

5)  Identify two factors required for cultural competence in the delivery of critical incident response.

6)  Demonstrate examples of three of the following for the university setting: a) 1:1 supportive interaction; b) Management or administrative consultation; c) Educational group briefing; d) Interactive group briefing.
  • Understand the history of crisis intervention and their contribution to the current strategy.
  • Identify the reasons, timing, leadership skills necessary to complete a PASS using a structured approach.
  • Able to lead a CMB (Educational Group Briefing) using combination of open ended questions and lecture.
  • Identify the structure of a 1:1 intervention to maximize assistance to the personnel, and minimizing danger of sliding into counseling.
Dennis Potter, LMSW, FAAETS, MCRA Board Member, Emeritus, Region 6

CMB: A Different Structure
to Increase Effectiveness
The Crisis Management Briefing is the newest group interventions developed to lessen the impact of a disruptive event for people. This workshop suggests a structure for organizing and completing a successful CMB. It has been used successfully with both first responders and civilians.

Learning Objectives:

1)  Describe the three step structure of completing a Crisis Management Briefing.
2)  List two important functions of using this structure to be helpful to participants of the intervention.
3)  Two steps in using the group to provide information on handling the aftermath of the event.

Dennis Potter, LMSW, FAAETS, MCRA Board Member, Emeritus, Region 6

Exploring the Efficacy of
Psychological First Aid (PFA): 
What Does Research Tell Us?
This presentation discusses recent findings of a randomized control trial study that examined PFA’s effectiveness on mitigating acute distress reactions. Results are expected to strengthen support for PFA as a viable evidence-based option for training responders to meet surge in demand for mental health services in the aftermath of disaster events.

Harvey J. Burnet, Jr. PhD LP, MCRA  Board Member, Region 5  

Stress and the Safety Service Dispatcher
Public Safety Dispatchers are first FIRST responders!  And as such, they are the first people to have an impact on the community in the face of emergencies.  Enabling them to be involved in crisis intervention would positively impact the community by enabling dispatchers to deal with the impact the crisis has on THEM. 

There are some specific reasons and characteristics of this job that make dispatchers prime candidates for on the job stress.  In spite of these facts they are often overlooked as first responders when it comes to crisis response and the daily stress that comes with the job. 
It is essential that people who do this job and the people who supervise them understand that protecting dispatchers’ mental health is key to a having a positive impact on the community.  One way centers can do this is to use resistance/resilience/recovery to help dispatchers navigate the craters that are thrown in their path every day as they do their jobs.   

I will offer suggestions that can help in the form of specific ideas for building resistance, improving resilience and enhancing recovery in the dispatch center.  There will be steps people can take on their own as well as ideas for communication center management to implement to promote improvement in stress management throughout the center.

Anne Daws-Lazar, MCRA Board Member, Region 2S

Thanks for the work you do supporting our communities.


Assisting Individuals in Crisis and Group Crisis Intervention (GRIN) 
April 3, 4, & 5, 2017
Hastings, MI
Grief Following Trauma
April 1, 2017 & April 8, 2017
Roseville, MI
Assisting Individuals in Crisis
April 7 & 8, 2017
Taylor, MI
Mid-West Michigan CISM Team Spring Training
May 18 & 19, 2017
Assisting Individuals in Crisis & Group Crisis Intervention (GRIN)
May 18, 19 & 20, 2017
Livonia, MI

If you have thoughts about topics that would help team development and coordination please contact the editorial staff of MCRA Connections listed below:


Michael Murphy
Kathy Lewis Ginebaugh
Roxanne Affholter
Anne Daws-Lazar
Sherry Jones
Chuck Watson
29TH Annual MCRA Training Conference
September 17, 18, & 19, 2017
Tustin, MI

Do you have a training that you would like MCRA to post?  Email your training information/details to

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