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Critical Incident Stress Management


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Critical Incident Stress Management

Critical Incident Stress, or the stress created by having to deal with injury and death resulting from responding to child deaths, multiple casualties, line of duty injury or death, etc. can have negative effects upon the health, emotional lives and families of firefighters (volunteer, paid call and career), paramedics, police officers, dispatchers, nurses and doctors in Manitoba.  The Office of the Fire Commissioner believes that emergency services organizations have a moral, ethical and professional obligation to train their personnel to understand critical incident stress so they survive their professional and volunteer careers and to maintain their health.

In 1991 the Office of the Fire Commissioner created the Manitoba Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Network as a joint initiative with Manitoba Health.  There are now seven Critical Incident Stress Management Teams throughout rural/northern Manitoba.   These CISM teams are made up of volunteers from emergency services, police and hospitals as well as local community mental health workers and other clinically trained people.  The Office of the Fire Commissioner supports the operation of these teams as well as provides staff time and resources to maintain the Network.  Manitoba Health and the Regional Health Authorities also support the Network.

In 2002, the Manitoba Legislature amended the Fires Prevention and Emergency Response Act.  One of the amendments was to Section 35(3), (the Fire Commissioner’s responsibilities) to include “(k) provide training in critical incident stress management, and coordinate emergency response personnel in the provision of critical incident stress management.”  This change in Legislation is unique in North America and is an indication of the commitment of the Office of the Fire Commissioner to Critical Incident Stress Management in Manitoba.

Manitoba CISM Network Mission

“People are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them.”  Epictetus (55 AD - 135 AD)

The Manitoba Critical Incident Stress Management* Network provides timely, effective assistance to emergency services personnel involved in critical incidents, thereby minimising symptoms of critical incident stress and mitigating, or perhaps preventing the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This service is provided on a “no charge” basis to those receiving assistance through the Network via trained volunteers and mental health professionals.

*Based on the “Mitchell Model” (J.T. Mitchell, 1983)

Target Groups

The target groups include fire, ambulance, emergency room nursing and physicians, dispatch and law enforcement personnel in Manitoba.


The goals of the Manitoba CISM Network are:

to educate individuals about stress reactions and ways of coping adaptively with them;

  • to instil messages about the normality of reactions to critical incidents;
  • to promote emotional processing and sharing of the event;
  • to provide information about, and opportunity for, further trauma-related intervention if it is requested by the participant;
  • to develop and provide peer and family understanding and support to the individuals;
  • to develop stress reduction techniques, and
  • to help re-establish a sense of control, mastery and empowerment.

CISM team 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-389-3473