Critical Incident Stress Management
Briefing: After years of ignoring the fact that law enforcement officers are not supermen and women, we are finally starting to address the issues of critical stress caused by the job. Agencies across the country are starting to see the need for CISM teams to address the mental health issues of dealing with the types of critical stress we deal with and bottle up inside.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 31.
On the Street: I have been very fortunate to serve on a CISM team and take many training courses. CISM is a way to start the process of dealing with traumatic events that law enforcement officers get involved with because of our work. I can now recognize incidents I was involved with throughout my career that I never told anyone about or dealt with. This can be very destructive and create other problems in our families and on the job if not dealt with. Some, not all, of the easy and early coping strategies are to stay hydrated, talk about the incident and write down your feelings about the incident.
Within days of taking one of the advanced CISM courses I was reading through the book of Psalm. I started to see that in several of the Psalms, David was actually working out his stressful incidents by both praying, talking it out, and writing it down. David was meeting his stress head on. These are textbook coping mechanisms. God confirmed the CISM training as something He approves of and gave me proof of its success through David. This was not a shock to me, but it was confirmation which is important to all that we do, Glory to God!
Maybe you have found yourself where David seems to be. David is a man who is stuck in his own head. The visions of events play over and over in his mind and he is looking to God for relief. In verse 9 David says, “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” David continues to pour out his soul onto paper in prayer to God. Verses 1-13 lay out a cry for mercy.
Here is the hope we have in Christ! Because we are God’s children and believers of Jesus, we can repeat verse 14, “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” This statement changes everything. We can actually see David processing his circumstances and coming to the understanding that he is a child of the one true God. In a severe crisis like this, human beings come to the understanding that only God can save them. This is a critical moment that must not be ignored or forgotten. There is a choice that is made. You either acknowledge Christ and surrender your life to Him or you try and handle it on your own.
Verse 19 begins to speak of the great goodness God has stored up for those who have made the correct decision. The ones who chose Him and, as David says, “who fear you”. In verse 21 God delivers David, just like He will deliver us. “Praise be to the LORD, for He showed His wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.” City is a metaphor for his mind. He is trapped in his own thoughts and he is under heavy attack. There is no way out except through the grace and mercy of Almighty God. Verse 22 says, “In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” This is exactly what we are looking for, mercy.
There is no problem, stress or critical incident that is bigger than our great God. I cannot stress enough how eager He is to help. We are drowning but all we have to do is reach out and take His hand.
Investigational Resources: Proverbs 18:10, 2 Corinthians 12:10.
Officer Safety Principle: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24.
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!