In the past two days, I posted about Peer Support and CISM, ideas for building a supportive and psychologically healthy work environment. Utilizing mental health working groups and monitoring the mental wellbeing of your crew will do wonders in lowering stigma. When S*** does hit the fan CISM, psychotherapy and programs like EMDR and other supportive initiatives will help get our first responders back on track….but then what?

If an Olympic sprinter breaks his leg, he’s not expected to start performing at his peak immediately following his surgery. Why is it different for us when we break our minds? Throwing an emergency worker back into the thick of it just doesn’t make sense; when sanctuary trauma, stigma and perceived injustice are considered, it could potentially be more traumatic than the initial trauma that caused the injury.

My friend Sgt. Glen Klose and his partner Sgt. Colleen Mooney, with the Edmonton Police Service, has helped develop a reintegration program for officers that have now evolved to assist paramedics and firefighters all across Canada and the world. The program is now referred to as The Edmonton Model. The program is a peer-driven return to work program featuring an interactive process of dealing with the stress of a critical incident, physical injury or psychological injury. Exposure therapy, confidence-building skills or exercises and guided imagery are a few of the methods used with substantial psychological oversight to get the first responder back to the road. Here’s a link for more information on this program:

Guidance should also be given to managers, supervisors and other department members to prepare them for their returning brother or sister. A sense of validation, understanding and support is required to fully reintegrate the first responder.

It’s terrific that courses like the Red Cross Psychological First Aid Course are being added to the curriculum of some emergency services schools like The Western Institute of Emergency Education. Preparing new members of our profession to be mentally resilient and providing a robust and supportive mental wellbeing work environment will help us stay healthy and save millions of dollars in psychological health-related costs.

Prevention through peer support and creating a supportive workplace, CISM for critical incident management and reintegration to help us get back up on that horse (P.C.R.) is a complete blueprint using existing programs for the first responders' mental wellbeing. If you would like help integrating this system into your service feel free to contact me at



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