The Eastern Carolina Critical Incident Stress Management Association(ECCISMA) is a volunteer organization that provides critical incident stress management (CISM) services to emergency responders in eastern North Carolina.
Its more than 100 members trained as peer debriefers that are dedicated to serving other emergency responders in Eastern North Carolina after traumatic events occur. Team members have also deployed statewide, nationally, and internationally after such events as 9-11, the tsunami in Thailand, and Hurricane Katrina.
The purpose of CISM is to 1) lessen the impact of the incident on the emergency responder and thus lessen the impact on his/her family as well, and to 2) accelerate recovery from the stress associated with the incident so that the individual can return to the normalcy of work and family life faster than might otherwise occur.
The most widely used intervention is a peer debriefing. The concept of a peer debriefing is a group process involving trained peers assisted by a mental health professional offering an environment where the emergency responders can share their thoughts and feelings regarding the incident with others who have had similar professional experiences. It also offers education on ways to deal with the stress of such incidents, which in many cases, involve the death of children, a line of duty death, mass casualty events, police shootings, or the suicide of a co-worker. These are, however, only a few examples.