I recently went through my first year at the NH Fire Explorer Training Academy (on the news HERE Or the NHFETA website HERE ) during these courses, we are training for our FF 1a classes. after 4 years at the NHFETA you recieve your 1a. it is the only academy like this in the nation.
anyway, in my first class, we were being taught about insident stress. and we briefly went about the subject of something like Pre-insident breefings. where you would go over things that you could see that might shake you up a bit such as a fallen brother, or other extreme cases.
I was just wondering how you would go about these meetings. do you bring in a therapist or someone along those lines? or do you talk to a chief, or fellow firefighters? how important are these meetings, and do they really work?
Thank you for your help
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Thread: Pre Incident
07-03-2004, 04:40 PM #1
Pre IncidentI havent failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
- Thomas Edison
07-07-2004, 03:35 PM #2
"Pre-incident briefing" is more common than you think - it just doesn't always come in a formal setting. Most of this happens at a peer level as firefighters and officers share their experiences on the job. As a chaplain, I try to encourage the newer members to pay close attention to what the experienced members are sharing.
But no matter how many "stories" you've heard, nothing can really prepare you for the emotion and shock of experiencing it yourself. Yes, you can know your SOPs forward and backward and do everything exactly as you were trained, but you still have to deal with the emotions and the "what ifs".
I think a pre-incident briefing may help when it comes to doing what you were trained to do, but from my experiences, I don't think it would have any real impact on the need for a post-incident debreifing.
Excellent question, Wannabe, I am interested in other's thoughts on this as well...Resident Chaplain of the IACOJ
07-08-2004, 08:16 AM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
The Fire Service has always had an informal briefing system. By the nature of what we do, we "de-brief" at the kitchen table afterwards. This de-brief will cover everything form what went right, what went wrong to what we saw.
There are "dinosaurs" that will tell you that you don't need to talk about the bad stuff, that it is "part of the job". But even they have ways to discuss the really bad calls.
The "pre-incident" brief is the opposite of what happens more often now. A CISD de-brief after a bad incident. In other words, you will sit and discuss the bad parts of this job, and hopefully it will help you when you are faced with it for real. Don't be suprised if you are still affected by what you see.
You don't need a therapist for the pre meetings, and in all probability you'll never have a "formal" meeting. One reason the teach the new guys to keep their "eyes open and mouths shut" is because of the things you'll learn from the guys that have been there.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be ashamed of how you feel. Everyone feels the same, they just show it differently.
07-08-2004, 12:49 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
I think I will start my reply with the following article. It comes from the Cowichan Valley Citizen:
Posted on Tuesday, July 06 @ 19:57:49 PDT
By Christina Martens Citizen Staff
A Nitinat family is in mourning after they said their final good-byes to nine-year-old Amanda Peter.
"She was doing pretty good, then she took a turn for the worse," Esther Edgar, cousin to Amanda's mother Marilyn Peter, said Tuesday.
Amanda had been badly burned in a fiery collision on the Malahat June 13 after the family's truck was struck from behind near the Shawnigan Lake turnoff.
"She'd been on life support since the beginning," said Edgar.
Although Amanda opened her eyes and lifted her arms at one point , she slipped back into a coma and doctors told the family "it was unfair to keep Amanda on life support," said Edgar.
On Monday night, Amanda's parents Marilyn Peter, Neil Sell and other close relatives made the decision to turn off the machines. Amanda was taken off life support at 11 a.m. Tuesday and was pronounced dead at 2:10 p.m.
"It's so sad because she was very outgoing," said Edgar. "She was a leader and had dozens of friends at home."
The family, members of the Ditidaht First Nations, were returning to Nitinat from Sooke when their truck started having mechanical
The truck was traveling very slowly up the Malahat and had been passed by several cars when a pickup truck slammed into it from behind.
Several strangers worked to pull the family from the burning wreckage just before flames engulfed the vehicle.
It's believed the family's vehicle was having mechanical problems which caused it to slow and come almost to a stop in the driving portion of highway.
Peter and Sell were treated and released from hospital and then traveled to Vancouver to be close to Amanda and her two-year-old brother Gary-Lee.
Gary-Lee is expected to make a complete recovery from two broken legs and minor burns. He's in Victoria General Hospital.
Edgar said one of Gary-Lee's casts was removed and the boy is slowly recovering from his injuries. "He's doing a lot better," she said.
In the Ditidaht tradition, funeral services will be held in Nitinat four days from Tuesday.
"Everybody's just trying to get to Vancouver to be close to the family now," said Edgar.
I freely admit that when I heard of Amanda's passing yesterday morning in the news, while driving in to work, I took it pretty hard. A beer with work mates during lunch, and again later with supper and a fellow FF helped greatly. I am deeply saddened by her passing because she is the "first" post incident death for me. But on another hand, I know that she is at peace with her God, and her physical pains and suffering are over forever. For that, I am grateful. My heart and prayers are now to her family in coping with the loss of a loved one. God Bless.
Now to try and give an intelligent answer to the original question.
Pre-incident briefs: I don't recall having been involved with them on a "professional" level - to say in a formal setting. Maybe once or twice, but those were pre-deployment for military operations briefs. Could be construed to mean the same thing, I guess.
Otherwise, as Dave and a few others have said, participation in general discussion around the beer table, listening to the Old Guys tell their tales, much as you would have sat on Granddad's knee listening to his stories as a child is a form of pre-briefing.
Since joining the fire service, I have been involved in four post critical incident de-briefs, the story above was the latest one. I fully and whole heartedly support them. True you will get some who will nay say it, and try to override/take control of the meeting, but if your Counsellor is strong, he/she wont let that happen. Each person will get his/her say in the story and get to express some of the deeper feelings of what was seen and done.
In my opinion, there is no way to fully prepare a person for some of the things that we see in the street, except by personal experience. However, I do feel that it is up to the Unit Training Officers/Chiefs to try to do what can be done to give some preparation. To this end, using casualty simulation, with make-up and real people who will moan, yell, scream etc does go a long way to making it a bit "easier" in the street.
In the navy we use cas-sim extensively. During my last set of Work-ups, we had a battle sim, where the ship (doesn't it always? ) took serious explosive damage. I was dispatched to retrieve a casualty from three bulkheads back. When I opened the door to the indicated compartment, Brian was leaning against the bulkhead, next to the door. One leg was tucked under his butt, and all I could see was tatters of his pant leg, and a pool of "goo" on the deck. Next to him was a work boot with more goo inside and the white tip of bone sticking through. I STOPPED DEAD IN MY TRACKS! Brian started to moan and call out... I looked at him, at my partner behind me, at the boot, his leg, back to Brian's face, at my partner... and then I remembered.......
THIS WAS ONLY A SIMULATION LOL
One deep breath and I was able to carry on. Since then, I learned that within myself, I have the power, the ability and the skills to see beyond the injury and the mess, and do the job that needs doing to save a life. This is why I believe in pre-briefs and in full run cas-sim during training.
I hope this helps - it was kinda long winded... and those who know me know to expect that sometimes. LOL.If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
"I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD
"Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)
Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!
impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto
IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.
07-08-2004, 12:51 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
Ditto the previous replies.
Just for perspective, what we in our department do as a "pre-brief" is for the most part handled during recruit training. It's primarily to let the folks know that we're available if and when they ever need us, and as you mentioned, go over the signs to help you recognize that someone may be going through a rough time.
I also try to stress the different ways of working through a bad incident (as stated above), which will vary depending on the incident itself and the people involved. And I always give folks a way to contact me quietly if they want to talk or ask questions without anyone else knowing about it.
07-08-2004, 09:48 PM #6
I would really like to thank everyone for your replys, i know it can be a touchy subject, but i think that you hammered all of my questions out.
Thank you all very much!
and Malahat, watch out for the fake legs, they can be a doosey.
Oh that actually reminded me, do the trainings that you go through with "fake casualties" effect you at a real scene? or do they really even help at training because you know it is only pretend?I havent failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
- Thomas Edison
07-09-2004, 08:02 AM #7
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
It helps in only that it prepares you for what you might see. It will never be realistic enough. Experience will help with that. Just remember two things...it ain't your pain, be sympathetic to theirs, but don't freak out. And focus on your job...it will help them feel better.
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