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Critical Incident Stress Management Services


  • Tresa Martinez,, EAP & CISM Coordinator
    215 ML King Jr. Blvd., Room 310
    P.O. Box 1732
    Madison, WI 53701-1732
    Work: 266-6561
    Answering Service: 266-4615, (Human Resources)
    1-800-236-7905 24/7
    TTY: 414-771-4808; 414-256-4800
    Answering Service: 1-800-236-7905; TTY - 414-771-4808

Concerns, Questions and/or Suggestions for City's Critical Incident Services or Training

(These, as well as the above individuals, are familiar with and can answer questions about the program)

  • Tresa Martinez (266-6561), Employee Assistance & CISM Programs
  • Asst. Chiefs' Jim Keiken (266-5966) or Patrick Tomko (246-4589) or 266-4420, Madison Fire Department
  • Lt. Kristen Roman (267-1194), Nextel (575-2788) - Madison Police Department

Critical Incident Stress Management Services Information

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) also administers the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM Program). This is a very brief summary of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) services. It is provided to you so you have information about what services are available, what to expect when experiencing a critical incident, and whom to contact for services.

What is a critical incident?

An event which is outside the usual range of experience for most people and which would be markedly distressing to almost anyone. For example:

  • the serious injury of death of a member of the public while an employee is performing regular duties
  • the serious injury or death of an employee in the line of duty
  • the suicide or homicide or unexpected death of an employee
  • an event associated with prolonged and extraordinary input in rescue efforts
  • any incident which can be considered a serious physical or psychological threat to an employee in the line of duty
  • any incident in which there is unusual media coverage
  • a series of incidents that may have cumulative effects
  • any abnormal event in which circumstances are so unusual or so distressing as to produce immediate or delayed emotional reactions that surpass normal coping mechanisms


Pre-Incident: CISM team members are involved in planning and also provide orientation and training to employees, managers, supervisors and union representatives.

During the Incident:

1. On-scene stress management services: help with preventing or reducing acute stress reactions at the scene of major incidents.

  • The effects of stress creep up on emergency personnel at the scene because everyone is involved in managing the situation and doing their jobs. The first signs of stress are usually internal and include loss of concentration, memory problems, thinking difficulties, nausea and minor tremors. These are usually suppressed by personnel as they get on with their jobs.
  • Continued exposure may cause:
    • headaches,
    • intense nausea
    • stomach cramps
    • shakes
    • visual distortion
    • irritability
    • fatigue
    • tactical errors
    • loss of emotional control
    • difficulty in understanding and communicating with coworkers
    • feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of the task
    • inability to grasp scope of the disaster
    • decrease in concentration
  • When an individual acts differently than usual—this is often an indication of a stress reaction.

2. Exiting Incident/Demobilization: includes help for relieving stress shortly after a critical incident.

  • Demobilization is a process in which crews, as they are released from the scene, go to a Center for a few minutes of rest, food, drink and to sign off the scene. They will get updated information, announcements and appreciation for services provided.
  •  A very brief (10 minute) stress information presentation (defusing) is done, which includes what to look for and what to do over the next 24-72 hours to manage stress. A defusing is an opportunity to remind personnel of useful techniques to reduce the immediate effects of a critical incident.
  • A handout sheet is given out covering the above and listing phone numbers of support personnel and mental health professionals (see "Helping Yourself After a Critical Incident"). Finally, debriefing schedules are announced.

Post-Incident/Debriefing: A debriefing is a way of reducing the impact of a critical incident. It can accelerate normal recovery in normal people experiencing normal reactions to abnormal events by giving them information, skills and support.

  • All personnel at the scene or others indirectly involved attend a confidential 2-3 hour group or individual session typically held 24-72 hours after the incident.
  • At the session personnel have an opportunity to talk about their role in the incident, identify stress reactions in order to develop specific skills in coping with reactions, and learn about resources for further assistance.

Other Post-Incident: CISM members are available to provide follow-up services to personnel and family members (see "Helping Yourself After A Critical Incident").


The activities of the debriefing team and the participants in such sessions will be confidential. There will be no discussions relative to the occurrence of a debriefing session or any of the contents or mention of any of the participants to anyone outside of the department (including the media). Other than when a member of the debriefing team is present, no part of any of the discussions which comprised the debriefing session may be discussed outside of the debriefing session, including revelation of such contents to superiors within the respective departments. Individuals are free to discuss the event and their own feelings with others but shall not discuss the briefing.

Referral Procedures

The referral procedures are as follows:

1. Any employee who has direct involvement in or knowledge of an incident and feels that a critical incident individual or group debriefing would be helpful may contact a:

  • supervisor
  • designated department contact person
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to request debriefing services.

2. Contact will then be made with the debriefing team or a team member to further determine the need for a debriefing.

  • If a debriefing is appropriate, either an individual (one-one) debriefing would be scheduled with the individual by a member of the CIDT and/or the EAP Coordinator or scheduling and referrals for group debriefings would be coordinated by the CIDT/EAP Coordinator and the affected department(s).

3. Department supervisors, a designated department contact person or the EAP may request a debriefing. If a debriefing (individual or group) is appropriate, the procedure is the same as given in 1. above.

Arrangements will be made by management to have employees attend the debriefing on paid time.

Follow-up or referral to other appropriate services will be provided by the debriefing team for debriefing participants who need additional services.

Recognizing that incidents which give cause for a debriefing session are frequently unique to and occur within different occupational work environments and that contact persons and procedural approaches to accessing services will vary, departments may, consistent with overall City policy, choose to develop departmental procedures to implement this policy.

For more information on CISM, see Administrative Procedure Memorandum #2-15 (PDF) or Tresa Martinez at 266-6561.

Whom to Contact (You May Contact Any One Of The Following):

EAP/CISM Coordinator for ALL departments: Tresa Martinez, 266-6561

SYMMETRY: 1-800-236-7905 24/7 or 414-256-4800

Police: Lt. Kristen Roman, work-267-1194, Nextel-575-2788

Fire: Jim Keiken, 266-5966/266-4420

Revised: 1/07, 5/07, 4/08, 04/12/09, 2/11

  • Main Office:
    (608) 266-4615
  • Compensation & Benefits:
    (608) 266-4615
  • EAP:
    (608) 266-6561
  • Employment:
    (608) 266-4615
  • Occupational Accommodation:
    (608) 267-1156
  • Labor Relations:
    (608) 266-4615
  • Training:
    (608) 266-4281
  • Telephone List (PDF)