September 6, 2018

Recently Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) staff members were led by James Hyde with Peer Support Central as he helped come up with ways to build RAA’s Peer Support team and teach a train the trainer course. Hyde has over 30 years experience. He has been a peer, directed Peer Support programs, and worked with first responders and military around the world as they built their own Peer Support programs.

RAA’s Peer Support program will help its providers cope with day to day stress both at work and at home. The well-being of RAA’s providers is a top priority and the Peer Support program is aimed at helping the organization achieve that goal. Stress related illnesses are 10 times higher in the first responder community than they are in the general population. While that has been recognized, many agencies do not have any resources for their providers beyond an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By creating a Peer Support team RAA is doing more.

RAA already has a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team in place. CISM sessions are used to help staff members after a traumatic event such as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI), a line of duty death, or pediatric death. CISM staff members help their co-workers work through their feelings and cope with those feelings after such an incident.

The Peer Support team will be an additional tool RAA can use to help its employees deal with stress and traumatic experiences. The organization will be increasing awareness through continuing education.