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The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program, which operates under the auspices of the Division of Programs and Community Services, was formed to provide assistance and support to New Jersey Department of Corrections employees and their families during critical incidents. The program seeks to stabilize negative impact as a result of a tragic event.


  • Goals of the
    CISM Program
  • What Is a Critical
    Incident?
  • Possible Stress Reactions
    to a Critical Incident
  • Critical Incident
    Stress Debriefing
  • Lessen the impact on employees exposed to critical incidents
  • Accelerate recovery and lessen the effects of harmful stress
  • Validate and normalize stress reactions
  • Promote recall of the incident
  • Encourage ventilation
  • Explore the personal impact of the trauma
  • Provide coping strategies
  • Encourage follow-up and support among management and employees
  • Provide an atmosphere of concern for affected employees
  • Provide additional sources of assistance when needed
  • A critical incident is an event that causes unusually strong reactions that have the potential to interfere with an employee's ability to function at the time the event occurs or at a later time.

    Examples of traumatic incidents include line-of-duty deaths, serious injuries, personal assaults, and threats of violence. During the course of their careers, NJDOC employees may experience such critical events as:

  • Line-of-duty or traumatic deaths
  • Suicides
  • Injuries or death of clients/patients/inmates/children
  • Hostage or riot situations
  • Fires/arson
  • Staff assaults
  • Accidents
  • Threats or acts of violence in the workplace
  • It is normal for a person to experience symptoms of stress because of an unexpected abnormal situation. However, what is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another; individuals will vary in their responses to a critical event.

    Decisions involving the appropriateness of providing Critical Incident Stress Management services must be made in accordance with established department policies and procedures.

    Cognitive (Thoughts)
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Limited Attention Span
  • Difficulty Making Decisions
  • Flashbacks
  • Poor Concentration
  • Physical (Body)
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Chest Pain
  • Change in Heart Rate
  • Emotional (feelings)
  • Guilt
  • Numbness
  • Anger
  • Grief/Despair
  • Depression
  • Helplessness
  • Behavioral (Actions)
  • Excessive Crying
  • Change in Appetite
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse
  • Withdrawal from Others
  • Excessive Time Off Work
  • Once the CISM coordinator decides to hold a debriefing, the team leader will be contacted to provide a team of trained debriefers as soon as arrangements can be made. Typically, it is not held less than 24 hours after the event.

    What It Is
    · A confidential group meeting offered to employees affected by a traumatic incident.
    · A discussion of the thoughts, reactions and feelings resulting from the incident.

    What It Is Not
    · An operations critique or part of any investigation of employees or the worksite.
    · A form of psychotherapy or treatment.

    What It Does
    · Serves to mitigate or reduce the impact of the stress.
    · Provides reassurance that what is being experienced is normal.
    · Serves to piece together what has happened.
    · Provides education on how to cope with stress related to trauma.

    Peer Support Team Member

    The dictionary defines peer as "one who has equal standing with another." Support is defined as "to help keep from failing during stress." It is important to note that CISM is a peer support team not a counseling service.

     
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