Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)


The FNESS –CISM Department is specific to First Nations Communities and approaches community healing by assisting individuals in Crisis.

Critical Incident Stress is the physical, emotional and mental reactions that go along with living and working day to day in the midst of pain, suffering, chaos, trauma, evil and loss. 

A critical incident is any incident that causes a person to have a strong emotional or physical reaction that has the potential to overwhelm normal coping abilities.  The incident is usually a tragic or traumatic event such as, but not limited to:

  • Serious trauma or death of a loved one or colleague
  • Witnessing accidents or incidents with violence involved
  • Incidents of physical, sexual or mental abuse
  • Suicide of someone close or related
  • Mass community evacuations/ personal relocation resulting from flooding and/or fires


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FNESS provides Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) support and educational services to First Nations communities, and their members, during critical incidents and their aftermath. 

The FNESS CISM Team is made up of dedicated Responders, trained in the specific needs of First Nations Communities, who work in collaboration with First Nations Bands and their Health Authority, to provide First Nations Communities, and their individual members, culturally focused Critical Stress Management (CISM)


Immediate Crisis Intervention

  • Crisis Intervention is NOT psychotherapy: it is a specialized and acute emergency mental health intervention that requires specialized training.  Often CISM is referred to as “emotional First Aid”.
  • First Nations Band Councils or Band Health Authority request FNESS CISM Responders to enter communities for CISM Intervention on behalf of individual  Band Members, Band Fire services, Band Emergency Management Teams, Band Health Care Workers and more as needed by the Band.

Ongoing Support

  • FNESS CISM Teams continue to follow up with initial Crisis Intervention with FN Bands, and FN Band Health Authorities, in collaboration with multi–agencies, to facilitate community healing from Crisis Incidents.
  • The Need for appropriate follow up services and referrals, when necessary, will be supported.
  • Spiritual Care and Self Care.

Educational Mentorship

  • Using the curriculum model of International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF), FNESS has partnered with multiple parties to develop an  accredited post- secondary course designed specifically for First Nations Communities to train First Nations Community CISM Responders.
  • FNESS Facilitators teach participants the fundamentals of and specific protocol for individual crisis intervention, group crisis intervention and demobilization (Flood/ Fire Evacuations), and Critical Incident Stress Debriefings(CISD).

Community Resilency

  • FNESS CISM Teams support ongoing First Nations Communities  interagency partnerships - ensuring continued support for Community Mental Health initiatives
  • FNESS Emergency Management
  • FNESS FFM, Fire Smart, ADAPT programs
  • FNESS Fire Services


CISM Intervention Highlights

  • Psychological Crisis Intervention
  • Resistance , Resiliency and Recovery
  • Basic Crisis Intervention Communication
  • Suicide Intervention
  • Common psychological and behavioural crisis reactions

Some common critical stress reactions are:

  • Physical or emotional fatigue
  • Anxiety, irritability, or agitation
  • Apathy or depression
  • Difficulty concentrating/making decisions
  • Disrupted sleep, nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance
  • Overuse of drugs, alcohol or prescription medications
  • Desire to spend more time alone than usual
  • Suicidal Impulse