What is the Texas Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Network?
The Texas CISM Network was established in 1992 to assist emergency service personnel, including dispatchers, who have experienced a critical incident such as line of duty death, death of a child, multiple casualty/fatality scenes, etc.
Jeffrey Mitchell, Ph.D., has defined a critical incident as:
Any situation faced by emergency service personnel that causes them to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with their ability to function either at the scene or later. All that is necessary is that the incident, regardless of the type, generates unusually strong feelings in the emergency workers.
The network is made up of CISM teams from across the state. The education, services and intervention strategies provided by Network teams have been proven to return the emergency worker to duty faster and healthier. Comprised of peers and selected members of the clergy (chaplains) trained in these strategies and mental health professionals (MHP) cross trained to emergency service agencies, these teams are available within the state on a 24-hour basis. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE although reimbursement for travel and expenses, may be requested, if possible.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), through the Network, provides a clearinghouse for information and is instrumental in the organizational and ongoing stages of team development. DSHS receives and screens requests for these crisis intervention services by calling 512-801-9816 .
The Goals of the Network are to:
- Provide the critical incident stress management and educational support necessary to ensure optimal functioning of Texas' emergency service workers and their primary support systems.
- Promote job retention capabilities for emergency services personnel and reduce turnover rates.
- Enhance the quality of response for persons in Texas needing emergency services.
- Conduct pre incident educational programs to acquaint emergency service workers with stress management techniques available through the CISM program as well as to provide initial and continuing education training for CISM team members.
- Provide a model of interagency cooperation in Texas.
- Provide a rural model of an organized statewide response to the psychological and emotional needs of emergency services personnel impacted by disasters/critical incidents.
The Network provides teams for responsive supportive crisis intervention services and stress management education to any emergency services agency in Texas involved in a critical incident. Through the CISM process, the team will provide an organized approach to the management of stress reactions for emergency service personnel who have been exposed to, or who are showing signs of, traumatic stress experienced in the line of duty. The focus will be to minimize the harmful effect of job stress, and accelerate the recovery of those personnel who have been traumatized in these situations.
Teams are not counseling or therapy providers. It is NOT the function of any CISM team to replace professional counseling or employee assistance programs, but to provide immediate, incident specific, supportive crisis intervention with a proven model.
The Texas CISM Network teams consist of volunteers representing the mental health community, emergency service workers and selected members of the clergy. These are dedicated individuals who are freely giving of their time and talents to provide a vital service to the Emergency Services System.
DSHS MHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Services
*If you need a CISM team to respond and are unable to reach anyone at 512-206-5555, please call Jennifer Reid, LMSW, at 512-705-4188.