What is PCIS?
A critical Incident is defined by the one who experiences it. There are many traumatic incidents, regardless of size or nature, that impact a first responder in different ways and these critical incidents may lead them to a PCIS. In many cases, it is a singular incident; however, there are also many cases where it is a cumulation of traumatic events that bring our first responders to our organizations.
The Post Critical Incident Seminar is a three day program where 25 to 35 first responders, who have experienced a traumatic event, come together to share their incident, receive hands on assistance and training from licensed mental health professionals, and most importantly assistance from their fellow first responders which we refer to as peers. In addition, we strongly encourage our participants to invite their spouse, partner, or significant other to join them. We understand that a traumatic critical event impacts their families and loved ones in a very significant way, and their attendance does help the healing process.
Day wise schedule
Day one is a full day where we focus our attention on our participants critical events. It is a long and often an emotional and difficult day. Without a doubt, in many cases the participants body language and overall demeanor lead you to feel that they may not want to be there, heads down, minimal eye contact, and tense faces. But they know that they need to be there, they may not want to tell their story at first but soon find out that they can. Our participants quickly learn that they are in a safe environment where they can speak freely about the heavy burden that they carry with them and have for some time. No one is there to judge them, question them, or harm them but there to listen and help. A long day yes, but a necessary day the healing begins.
Today is a good day of learning, spending time with peers who have experienced a critical incident such as theirs in small group sessions, and an introduction to EMDR. The PCIS involves psychotherapy- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)- which helps with people who have been exposed to extreme trauma. In moments of real intensity, when the body is on high alert, like a shooting or an accident, the visual images of those moments gain overwhelming prominence in the memory and on the brain. This psychotherapy works to re-process those moments so these horrific images that tend to “flashback,” or dominate, can move along in the memory and eventually lose their prominence. EMDR therapy has proven effective in facilitating help and healing for traumatized officers.
Small groups are introduced in day two. These small groups are peer led and a vital component of a Post Critical Incident Seminar. The peers themselves have also experienced a critical incident, so they speak and lead with their experience They are charged with encouraging the group participants to open up further, tell their story, bare their inter feelings, and know that what is said in the room is confidential and safe. This is a powerful part of the healing process and many of the first responders begin to feel that they did their job, the others feel the same as them, I am normal, my feelings do not lessen who I am, and the honesty encourages open and frank discussion.
Group sessions are led by licensed mental health professionals. These sessions occur at various times during the day and include subject matter experts who provide our participants with many tools to aid in their healing. The second day training agenda used during the group sessions has been successfully deployed during many PCIS.
By the end of the second day not only do you sense that things are improving for the participants, they are improving. There are smiles on their faces, there are conversations between participants, and those who invited their spouses, you see their interaction changing as well. During the lunch breaks, laughter is present and friendships are developing.
This day is leverage to provide our participants with additional tools to prepare them for a successful journey towards the resolution of their critical incident or incidences. Small group discussions continue, additional EMDR sessions for those that would like another session, and time with one of our clinicians is also made available. Friendships have been made, plans are spoken about by participants as to their next steps, and you see and hear hope in so many of them. They walk away confident that they are okay, they did their jobs, and they see their future in a whole different light. Post PCIS, each participant sends in an evaluation and testimonial of their experience while attending the seminar. In fact, we have provided you many of those testimonials. What is also abundant, is the participants stating “how do I help others.” Recovery is not guaranteed but what is guaranteed is that you will be given the resources that you need to retake your life and no longer will your critical incident control you, but you will control them.
CHECK OUR PCIS DATES
What participants are saying about PCIS
Testimonials from the first responders and their spouses.
WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT PCIS
“I gained relationships, a new perspective, and renewed thankfulness. The course went above and beyond my expectations. I’ve already made a mental list of those I know who I believe would benefit from this training. First Responders encounter critical incidents every day. We talk, we joke, we move on. But some of us don’t move on. Some of us need this peer environment to help us heal; to help us understand. We train every year on how to help others… why wouldn’t we train to help ourselves?”
“I gained a better understanding of what my husband deals with and how it may make him feel. Talking to other wives of LE (Law Enforcement) made me realize there are others dealing with the same things that I am. The course was more than I expected I really enjoyed the small groups. I felt more at ease and was able to be more open. I would recommend this course to any LE spouse because it helps to shed light on a lot of things in your day to day life and living with someone in LE.”
“I got an opportunity to discuss and face how to approach my future after a critical event. The blatant reality that I am not alone in the struggle to move forward is good. This course met or exceeded my expectations. There was open dialogue, knowledgeable trainers, and adequate timeframe.”
“I gained the willpower to continue. It is a long hard path but there is an end. I would not change anything about this course and I would recommend it to my colleagues.”
“I found some closure, and mostly I found peace. I have humor, but lacked pease. I tried to find a reason to turn around and go home when I was on my way here, but now I am so glad I came. the drive home will be so much better. I can’t think of anything I would change about this training. I slept last night like I have not slept since a year ago, the day before hell began for me. I have been blessed by this program. But more especially, this course has been a blessing for my wife and family.”
“I gained knowledge of how my reaction to the incident was normal and how to cope with emotional stress and reactions, plus information to take home to my spouse. This course met my expectations, and more. I had no idea what i was coming into. I would not change anything about this course. I would recommend this course to any colleague who has been involved in a CI (Critical Incident). It helps you understand why you reacted the way you did. The information given and tools you are giv en to cope, manage, and eventually get over the situation are awesome. It is very beneficial and I would recommend any spouse to be with the officer. It gives the spouse facts/ reasons and explains why their spouse reacted as they did about the CI. It gives you peers who understand things better than just someone from EAP. It gives you knowledge about the CI. It gives you peers who understand things better than just someone from EAP. It gives you knowledge to carry through and complete your daily tasks managing stress/ emotions from the CI. This is an awesome course and I would recommend it to all.”
“I was asked to attend this course, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I appreciated the lack of pressure and acceptance of whatever I could offer as important. This course is an opportunity to get together with people who have encountered tough times and can provide you with a perspective and understanding. The peers have been in your place and can help give you the tools and support to come through. You should leave with a better outlook and glimpse that you can get through the struggles you face.”
“This was a learning experience for me. It certainly helped with past and present issues I have. It gave me the chance to talk to someone about my problems and find that the reactions that I’m having are normal. I didn’t know what to expect, but it has been very rewarding . The staff and peers are wonderful, very friendly. They were a lot of help in resolving some issues.”
“I know it’s hard to prepare something you’ve never encountered before, like a critical incident. From the moment I stepped into and was introduced to this seminar, the tenseness and stress from my incident started to ease up. It’s comfortable to be around others who can truly understand what you have been through, and have the tools to help you move forward. This is an excellent program and I hope that it continues.”
“Not only have I witnessed a change in myself, as the 3 days progressed I watched people open up to each other, bond, and start to smile again. It’s hard to put a finger on any part of the program that makes the difference, just please believe me when I tell you that it does. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and to bring my wife, who obviously is affected by our tragedy as much or more than me. This is a program that should be continued.”
“This course was absolutely outstanding. I was skeptical before coming, but am so glad I did. Seeing the difference it makes and has made to everyone here is amazing. I would highly recommend this course to others. I can’t say enough good and positive things about this program.”
“Even though I was told going into this that we weren’t going to be holding hands and singing songs, I still thought that was what it was about. This course exceeded my expectation. That is not all what this was about. You are able to explain your story and feelings in a good way. I will be recommending this to every colleague because no matter how insignificant you think your CI is, it’s your incident. The only person it needs to be critical to is you. This course had made me realize how much my work affects my personal life. It has opened my eyes to know that I am not the only one with stories that need to be told but there are stories that need to be heard. I wanted to shelter my wife from all of this and it has gotten to the point where we were just roommates and no longer a married couple. My plan is to include my wife and become one again.”
“Please keep this class going and get as many people as you can get involved with it. This course went way past my expectations. I would not change anything at all about this seminar; I loved it! It’s so good to know that there are other people who really understand what I’ve been through. I still have things to work on, but now I know how to move forward. I want to thank my agency for allowing me to go to this class. Please allow this to continue and look at letting the ones that need this class and want this class to attend.”
“This course lifted a weight from me, thank you!”
“I have nothing but positive to say about this program. The help and assistance from the peers was a must. There may be officers within my department who need this training but don’t realize it. I want to talk with those officers and encourage them to attend.”
“With every passing day of the seminar I became more and more thankful that I attended. I know that we are not alone, and I have a greater understanding of how to deal with our crisis. Keep up the good work; you guys are spreading across our section of the US and beyond! You are making a difference in so many lives! Thank you!”
“I would absolutely recommend this course. If needed this training could make the difference in saving a career. I have gained a peace of mind and ability to deal with future incidents. It helped me much more than I thought it could.”
“This course allows you to see that you are not alone in the way you feel, and you are not defined by your incident. I realize I cannot fight this fight alone and that my wife who attended with me is my biggest asset and I need to lean on her more and vice versa. This class would greatly benefit anyone in public service. I want to thank each of you for your help to make this course available.”