Providing Crisis Support for Our Front Line Responders and Healthcare Professionals
Resources For Emergency RespondersCrisis Resources For Immediate Help
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Do you need Mental Health resources during this COVID-19 pandemic?
We have online free and confidential support groups for healthcare workers scheduled through Zoom. Any front line responder and healthcare worker directly involved with the COVID-19 pandemic is eligible to attend. See the attached information for more details.
Online COVID-19 Healthcare Peer Support Meetings:
Free group support meetings for front line Healthcare and First Responders
Please use this space to talk with one another about your experiences and challenges during this time. Our goal is that you will find support, advice, ideas, and connections through these groups.
Weekly free and confidential online support groups for front line Healthcare Professionals and First Responders, scheduled through Zoom. Any front line responder and healthcare professional directly involved with the COVID-19 pandemic is eligible to attend.
Our goal is to create a supporting environment for sharing and expressing the challenges of the current events.
What to expect:
- the meetings are led by a healthcare or responder professional trained in Peer Support
- up to 15 participants
- via Zoom chat
- what is said in the meeting, stays in the meeting
- no recordings from the meetings are kept
- cross-talk is discouraged
- no arguing or dismissing between each other is allowed
We look forward to seeing you. Please join the link for the meeting below at a scheduled time.
***We will close the meeting after the first 15 ppl join***
Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line – Text BADGE to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
Suicide hotline (not first responder specific)
Frontline Helpline – 1-866-676-7500
24/7 coverage with first responder call-takers
Safe Call Now – 1-206-459-3020
Crisis referral for public safety employees
Copline (Law Enforcement Only) – 1-800-267-5463
Confidential line for Law Enforcement
Assistance For Responders Affected By The Disaster
Forming connections between emergency responders who suffered losses during a disaster and people who can assist them. This service is geographically limited to Northern California.
- Psychological support
- Assistance with filing of insurance claims
- Assistance with federal/state resource management
- Assistance with goods/housing
- Therapy dogs
If you are an emergency responder who was affected by a disaster please call us at 707-200-3765.
If you are willing to assist emergency responders during these tragic times please call or contact us and volunteer.
First Responder Meetings In California
Support meetings are available for first responders throughout Northern California – First Responder Meeting Locations
These meetings are only for first responders and not the general public. These meetings serve as a safe, confidential place, where first responders can share with people who truly understand. “In that room, I never feel alone” – Anonymous
Looking For A Clinician
CISM Debriefs: Mental Health First Aid
Critical Incident Stress Management is a comprehensive, integrative, multicomponent crisis intervention system. CISM is considered comprehensive because it consists of multiple crisis intervention components, which functionally span the entire temporal spectrum of a crisis. CISM interventions range from the pre-crisis phase through the acute crisis phase, and into the post-crisis phase. Crisis intervention is a short-term helping process. It is an acute intervention designed to stabilize and mitigate the crisis response (Evenrly & Mitchelle, 2008). It is not psychotherapy. The goals are to foster natural resiliency through stabilization, symptom reduction, return to adaptive functioning and / or facilitation of access to continued care (adapted from Caplan, 1961).
To request CISM debrief for your organization call us at 707-200-3765
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been an accepted diagnosis since 1980. We believe it is time to adopt a new name – Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. PTSI is more accurate, hopeful and honorable.
PTSI is a biological injury that develops after a person has experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. While many people have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while after a traumatic event, they normally get better with time and don’t develop PTSI. Yet, some people show symptoms of PTSI like flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and frightening thoughts that get worse and/or last for months or even years, severely interfering with their daily lives.
For a full article please refer to: http://globalptsifoundation.org/ptsd-vs-ptsi
What is PTSI in emergency responders?
As first responders, we put others first during emergency situations, which is a technique we automatically do to get through a critical incident and ensure that everyone is cared for and safe. A traumatic event, or critical incident, is any type of disaster such a hurricane, flood, car crash, fire, or caring for a severely injured individual. The individuals we help during these incidents can easily develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)/Post Traumatic Stress Incident (PTSI), as well as the first responders who help those individuals.
PTSD/PTSI is a medical condition that affects one’s mental health after being triggered by a traumatic event. This can occur by either experiencing or witnessing an event or by an accumulation of multiple events. Sometimes this they may lead to difficulty dealing with certain aspects of this event. These difficulties subside with time. However, if the symptoms interfere with daily activities or last for multiples weeks or months, this may indicate PTSD/PTSI.
The symptoms of PTSD/PTSI are extensive and vary from person to person. They are generally categorized into physical, behavioral, and emotional symptoms.
Physical symptoms may include:
Grinding of teeth
Behavioral symptoms may include:
Withdrawal from friends and family
Increased alcohol consumption
Emotional symptoms may include:
Suicidal thoughts or actions
Symptoms of PTSI can be extensive and vary from person to person. Based on my personal experience, when these symptoms interfere with your life on a daily basis and you find yourself consumed by thoughts or feelings that you cannot control, it is a good idea to seek professional help for PTSI. Many First Responder organizations have established peer support groups, which can be a good place to find local information and assistance. Many agencies also have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help find a psychologist or counselor who specialize in PTSI. In addition, there are several national programs that specialize in PTSD for first responders. Please contact us for more information or to talk more about PTSD.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Common Stress Reactions from Critical Incidents
Articles Demonstrating the Increased Risk for PTSD in the First Responder Community:
Local Firefighter’s Widow Mission to Save Lives, Numbers Show Firefighter Suicide Rising (January 2, 2018) Luli Ortiz. CBS12.com West Palm Beach, FL
Groundbreaking Data Collected on Mental Health of First Responders (November 2, 2017) Randy Mellow. Journal of Emergency Medical Services
Police Officers Face Cumulative PTSD: Unlike a Physical Injury, A Mental Traumatic Injury Can Happen Almost Daily (April 3, 2017) Michelle Beshears, American Military University
Real Life Example of Post-Traumatic Stress:
What is it? Why does it matter?
That won’t happen to me. I’m too strong, tough, and invincible.
I’m a First Responder.
I am a 32-year veteran of a large fire department in California. I had a high-ranking position. College-educated, well-trained, and experienced. Interesting enough, I am also a human being. That makes me susceptible to stress. I can have a full plate. And I most certainly cannot drink from a 5-inch fire hose of overwhelming circumstances, sights, sounds, and emotions.
I have a Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.
The day started like any other. It was my day off. Breakfast with family. Play with the dogs. Get some yardwork done. While listening to the scanner, I heard a battalion chief ask for another chief officer to respond to a working vegetation fire. Within minutes, I was on the road.
As I approached the scene, all I could see of the fire was a non-ominous looking white smoke column drifting lazily up to the clouds above. I met up with the battalion chief to transition command. He would focus on Operations, while I took the Incident Commander role.
I noticed the battalion chief was not acting as his normal self, and I asked what was going on. A crew was in trouble, and had called MAYDAY. I now know that that was the opening salvo of my stress overload. After the crew had been extracted from their situation, I drove over to their location to assess their injuries, so I could provide an update to my chief.
It was a surreal experience. People I knew well, were horribly injured.
Several minutes later, I found myself at the end of a cul-de-sac in front of a pre-school. A wave of claustrophobia swept over me. It was later explained to me that that wave was a panic attack. I managed to regroup, and spent the next several hours commanding the fire.
As the days turned into weeks, my chronic insomnia was robbing me of energy and focus. I went to the doctor for a sleep aid. She sent me to therapy. While the grass stayed green that winter, with the help of my therapist, I kept ahead of the PTSI. Barely.
By early summer, the outcome was no longer in question. Driving through a burn scar from a different fire set off a panic attack. If I wasn’t having a nightmare, I was waking up drenched with sweat. Listening to fireworks during the 4th of July was almost unbearable.
Then there was the headache. My constant companion. Unfazed by migraine medicines, the tension headache stayed with me 24/7. Good days were marked by only a slight headache. Bad ones felt like my head was being squeezed by a vise press.
Within weeks I was off work, completely and totally depleted by a week-long panic attack. After two weeks of doing nothing, the fog started to lift a bit, and I wondered what the hell had just happened.
I have lost track of how many hours of therapy, EMDR, and group counseling I have received. The lifestyle changes I have had to adopt to function. Damaged relationships beyond salvage. Prescriptions and supplements to get me back to the land of the living.
This is not how I envisioned retirement to be.
I was a First Responder.
Now I am a Post-Traumatic Stress survivor.
Mental Health Resources
The following are resources we’ve put together, please click on each one for more information.
Taking the First Steps to Healing from PTSI
Coping Strategies for Stress
Stress Survival Skills
Freedoms of Grief
15 Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
Sunshine Behavioral Health Resources
Body Stores Trauma
Excellent Book – “Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk
Gary & Laura Ruiz use a shiatsu based acupressure-style of bodywork combined with the Chinese meridian system. This blends the body/mind/spirit aspect the session and gives a chance to focus on any particular areas. We have been practicing/teaching for thirty years and still have a blast.
Shiatsu Healing Therapy