Government of New Brunswick

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

A program for New Brunswick's
Front Line Workers

What is a critical incident?

A critical incident is a situation that is traumatic for
the front line worker involved. The incident causes the worker to experience an unusually strong emotional reaction either during or after the incident.

Examples of critical incidents include:

  • serious injury or death of a co-worker in the line of duty;
  • loss of a patient after prolonged rescue attempts;
  • incidents that attract considerable media
  • personal identification with a victim or his/her
  • suicide of a co-worker;
  • serious injury or death of a person; and,
  • death of, or violence towards, a child.

What is the program?

The program is intended to reduce the buildup of stress in people who work in high stress fields and to promote a culture of wellness and positive mental health in the workplaces of New Brunswick’s valued front line workers. A provincial team, made up of mental health and addiction professionals and front line peer support personnel trained in critical incident stress management, has been established in collaboration with Mental Health Services and the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick. The team is responsible for providing stress management education, creating a culture of wellness in the workplace, and responding to individuals and groups following critical incidents.

Why is it needed?

There is a commonly held belief that front-line workers are super-human and immune to the stress they routinely encounter in their jobs. However, no one is fully prepared to deal with things like loss of life and human suffering on a regular basis. When stress builds up it may contribute to burn-out, disruption in normal routine, or the loss of front line professionals from their chosen field. Understanding the impact of critical incident stress and applying appropriate interventions when incidents occur have been found to be helpful to front line workers in dealing with the abnormal stress they may encounter in their daily work. This can improve job satisfaction and morale in the workplace and reduce time lost due to illness.

What are the services?

Critical incident stress management services are a range of interventions aimed at educating front line workers about stress and its impact, making recommendations that create a healthy workplace and responding to individuals impacted by critical incidents.

  • stress awareness sessions, offered in the workplace;
  • immediate small group support (defusing) for individuals or work teams immediately after a critical incident response has been completed;
  • powerful event group support (debriefing) of multi-agency groups of responders following a critical incident response, to enable workers to share their thoughts and reactions while discussing the incident. This is an educational session. Confidentiality is assured;
  • follow-up contact and referral of individuals to mental health or private service providers for further assistance, if needed;
  • demobilization for front line workers during the course of an ongoing, major response to a critical incident;
  • on-going education and training for team members.

Who and where are the teams?

The New Brunswick CISM team is made up of representatives from 14 regionally-based Critical Incident Stress Management Teams located in the province’s Addiction and Mental Health Services. Team members include addiction and mental health professionals, such as psychologists, social workers and nurses. In addition, there are also peer support personnel from front line professions, such as firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, hospital emergency room staff, child protection workers and clergy to name just a few.

Who to contact?

Your regional Community Mental Health Centre will be able to provide you with the name and phone number of the regional Critical Incident Stress Management Team Coordinator. That person is responsible for arranging any CISM interventions as needed.

Community Mental Health Centers or Addicitons Services

Moncton 856-2444
Richibucto 523-7620
Saint John 658-3737
Sussex 432-2090
St. Stephen 466-7380
Fredericton 453-2132
Woodstock 325-4419
Edmundston 735-2070
Grand Falls 475-2440
Campbellton 789-2440
Bathurst 547-2086 (Addiction Services)
Caraquet 726-2030
Miramichi 778-6111
Perth-Andover 273-4701

Provincial Contacts

Diane Maillet, Clinical Director
(506) 523-7789

Heidi FitzGerald, Education Director
(506) 466-7646

Sylvie Martin, Director of Adult Services
(506) 444-5241