Several resources are available to all AFD members and families for stress management intervention.  You may contact your AFD Chaplains at any time for individual or group pastoral support, formal or informal stress debriefings, or for assistance with any work or personally related issue. 

Following a critical incident, your Chaplains are available to provide individual or group debriefings.  In addition to providing you in-house support, there are also other resources AFD Chaplains may draw upon:

·                    An established Big Country Critical Incident Stress Management Program (CISM) is available to first responders in the Abilene area.  These resources may be utilized in cases such as those involving a line of duty death, multiple casualty/fatality scenes, death of a child, etc.

·                    In these cases, following an on-site evaluation, a period of initial defusing occurs within the few hours following the incident where firefighters are provided a supportive and confidential environment to experience and express the normal feelings and emotions characteristic of such incidents.  A formal Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is conducted within 24 to 48 hours following the incident.  A follow-up CISD may be conducted as needed in the weeks or months following the incident.

·                    The City of Abilene offers a cost-free Employee Assistance Program that includes counseling services.  An Employee Assistance help line is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-343-3822.

·                    Your Fire Chaplains also have referral access to other local resources for specialized long term or follow-on counseling for you and/or family members, including child and adolescent counseling and marriage enrichment services.  In these cases, a person’s financial situation is taken into consideration and fee adjustments are made accordingly. 

While at times it is obvious that a critical incident has occurred following a major event and a formal Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) response is appropriate, many times it is difficult to ascertain what exactly constitutes a “critical” incident on an individual level.  The cumulative stress of a series of more minor incidents, coupled with the many stresses of everyday life, can also significantly impact you and the lives of those around you.  It is as equally important to your health and well being, and for your relationships with others, that this type of stress also be recognized. 

In these cases, you must be willing to reach out in a proactive way to prevent the destructive consequences that will result when this type of cumulative stress is left unchecked.  Just as a working fire was once at an incipient stage, ignoring this type of pressure will eventually result in negative consequences in your life, often impacting not only you but also those whom you love.    

In many cases, stress “debriefings” addressing the issues associated with the daily work performed by the AFD are conducted through spontaneous and informal interaction between firefighters, where a supportive network is already in place due to the close knit community and camaraderie shared by those in the Fire Service.  There are, however, times in everyone’s life when needs for growth, healing, and encouragement exist that can be best met through other sources.

To access any of these services, any member of the AFD may contact the Chaplains directly by calling 676-6691.  All information is handled with strict confidentiality and any services accessed through the Fire Chaplaincy office are completely outside of your chain-of-command.