Since the Critical Incident Stress (CIS) program was implemented two years ago, hundreds of staff have used this valuable resource.
At its annual BC Health Care Award ceremony in Vancouver, the Health Employers Association of BC announced the CIS peer team as the recipient of the Workplace Innovation “Gold Apple” honour for supporting the well-being of BCEHS staff.
"I am grateful that the judges recognized the importance of the work being done by our critical incident stress peers and our program," said Marsha McCall, BCEHS CIS program manager. "This program has achieved what it has because BCEHS and the three employee unions have all come together to work collaboratively to support our employees."
“I am so proud of the CIS team for receiving this special recognition,” said BCEHS/PHSA Executive Vice President Linda Lupini. “The CIS peer team does a tremendous job helping their colleagues all over the province, making it easier for paramedics and dispatch staff to access counsellors specifically trained in dealing with EMS stress. Their work over the past two years has helped us to be much more proactive and supportive of the mental wellness of our employees, who deal daily with traumatic and challenging situations.”
To be considered for the association’s Gold Apple, nominees must have changed practices or uncovered the best methods to approach a task, demonstrated tangible results, and continually sought to improve work being done in the health sector.
The Critical Incident Stress Program consists of peers and trauma counsellors who can understand and relate to occupational stressors. It is strictly confidential and available around the clock. If necessary, referrals to a clinical psychologist or trauma/addictions counsellors are also provided through the program.
In 2016, the CIS peer team members responded to the needs of their colleagues 537 times and 206 paramedics/dispatchers were linked with trauma counsellors across the province. In 2016, four employees told program leads that their lives had been saved because of the program. So far, in 2017, the numbers indicate that responses and links to counsellors are still increasing significantly.
“Worldwide, the incidence of occupational stress injury for paramedics and dispatchers is being documented and it is clear that a significant number in this emerging profession have been suffering in silence,” said Marsha.” I am grateful that there are real concrete actions we can take to mitigate and make a difference for those that are injured. I feel this award is an important recognition of an essential change! Thank you!"
The CIS program was among 15 individuals and groups that were honoured this year with HEABC awards celebrating innovation within BC’s publicly funded health care providers. See a video about the work of the CIS Peer team
Staff can access a CIS peer or additional support by calling the toll-free number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: 1-855-969-4321.