Critical Incident Stress Management Team

Critical Incident Stress (like the illusion background on this page) can be very deceiving, hence the necessity of the CISM team.  The United States Search and Rescue Task Force Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team may be activated or placed on “standby” for emergencies or disasters in your jurisdiction.  The U.S. SAR Task Force CISM Team consists of CISM specialists with varied backgrounds including licensed Ph.D.’s (Psychology).


What is a critical incident?

Tragedies, deaths, serious injuries, hostage situations, plane crashes, shootings – these all can seriously effect people who respond in emergencies and encounter highly stressful events almost every day. Sometimes an event is so traumatic or overwhelming that people may experience significant stress reactions. These events are known as critical incidents. Critical incident stress is the body’s normal reaction to a very abnormal event.

Emergency services personnel are frequent sufferers. They can undergo these normal, although uncomfortable stress reactions to extraordinary events and are often confused by the changes they notice in themselves and others. 


How do I recognize Critical Incident Stress?

Critical incidents may produce a wide range of stress symptoms, which may appear immediately at the scene, a few hours later or within days of the incident. Stress symptoms usually occur in four different categories: Cognitive (thinking), Physical (body), Emotional (feelings) and Behavioral (actions). The more symptoms experienced, the more powerful the stress reaction. The longer the symptoms persist, the more potential there is for lasting harm. The following is only a sample of stress symptoms that can show up after a critical incident:

Cognitive: Poor concentration, poor attention span, slowed problem solving, memory problems, difficulty making decisions and difficulties with calculations.

Emotional: Guilt, depression, loss of emotional control, grief, anxiety, fear, feeling lost and feeling overwhelmed.

Physical: Muscle tremors, gastro-intestinal distress, headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing and elevated blood pressure.

Behavioral: Excessive silence, unusual behaviors, withdrawal from contact, sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits and changes in work habits.

Services And Benefits Of The U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force CISM Team

    • Assistance in CISM support.
    • Mutual aid with other CISM teams for additional personnel for disaster incidents.

    • Immediate (during the time of the event) stress coordination and CISM services available to emergency service organizations.

    • Peer Support for emergency service personnel (police, fire, rescue, military, etc.)

    • No fee is charged to requesting agencies.

Stress Survival Suggestions Pending The Arrival Of The

United States Search and Rescue Task Force

Critical Incident Stress Management Team

When persons experience significant stress from a critical incident, the following steps may help to reduce the stress until the incident is over or until the U.S. SAR Task Force Critical Incident Stress Management Team arrives:

  • Limit exposure to sights and sounds.

  • Provide an immediate rest break of at least 15 minutes.

  • Have someone stay with the distressed person.

  • Provide non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated fluids.

  • Allow the person to talk about the experience.

  • Protect the person from bystanders and the media.

  • Reassure the person that the stress experience is normal; most people recover very well from stress.

  • Show appreciation for the person’s work.

  • Do nothing to embarrass the person.

  • Listen to the person.

  • Don’t take the person’s anger or other feelings personally.

    • Don’t tell them that they are “lucky it was not worse” – traumatized people are not consoled by those statements. Instead, tell them that you are sorry such an event has occurred and you want to understand and assist them.

Fortunately, help is available – The United States Search and Rescue Task Force Critical Incident Stress Management Team!

For further information, please call our headquarters general information number at: 215-922-7225.  Should you require the CISM Team, you may contact an Officer by National SkyPage at:  1-800-495-6369 and entering your call back number with area code.  


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here