Emergency Medical Services Critical Incident Stress Management
In accordance with NMSA 1978 §§ 24-10B, the EMSB is designated as the lead agency for the emergency medical services system. As that lead agency, the bureau has been tasked with the operation of a critical incident stress management program for emergency providers utilizing specifically trained volunteers who shall be considered as public employees for the purposes of the Tort Claims Act [41-4-1 to 41-4-27 NMSA 1978] when called upon to perform their duties.
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Hotline
First responders can call this dispatch number 24/7/365 to get in touch with the emergency medical services critical stress team who can offer critical incident stress debriefing and counseling services.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Critical Incident?
A critical incident is any event that has an impact sufficient to overwhelm the usually effective emotional coping skills of either an individual or a group of individuals. Critical incidents are usually sudden, unexpected events outside the range of normal human experience. For this reason, they can have a strong emotional effect even on trained, experienced individuals. If the incident is extreme, it has the potential to cause post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What is Critical Incident Stress Management?
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a wide range of programs and interventions designed to prevent stress in emergency responders and to assist them in managing and recovering from significant stress should they encounter it in their work.
CISM is much broader than Critical Incident Stress Debriefings (CISD). It includes special programs and strategies. (e.g., preincident education, significant other support programs, community outreach programs, disaster preparedness and assistance, etc.)
What is the New Mexico Crisis Support Team?
The New Mexico Crisis Support Team (CST) is a team of volunteer mental health professionals, clergy and peer support personnel who have received special training to intervene with individuals who have experienced a critical incident or traumatic event. The team operates on a 24/7, on-call basis statewide; through the use of the Santa Fe control dispatch center. The Critical Incident Stress Debriefing hotline can be reached at 505-827-9384.
Santa Fe Control will take the initial call and contact the oncall CST dispatcher. The dispatcher will put together an appropriate team to lead the intervention. Team members have served in local, state and national crises.
Who Do We Support?
Violent incidents or crises may be interpersonal as in homicide, suicide, or domestic violence; crises may be human caused, as in vehicle crashes; and lastly, crises may arise from natural disasters such as tornadoes, explosions or fires.
It is important to realize that the crisis intervention is not psychotherapy or a substitution for mental health or counseling. Rather, the intervention is aimed at intervening at the moment where support services are most valuable and exploring the potential for prevention initiatives.
Although the CST team usually works with emergency responders (fire, law enforcement, EMS, Search and Rescue, etc.), the team does work with and assist other teams formed to serve the needs of industries, schools, etc.
The New Mexico CST recognizes that some communities have extensive capacity for response and can manage most of their own incidents through victim assistance coordinators, school-based programs or mental health centers. Some areas may lack this capacity and will need support. New Mexico CST provides the statewide network of support resources that can be mobilized for both response and prevention.
Please see the following publications to learn more about CISM.