Tragedy strikes every day. Most of us aren’t aware of the traumatic events that our emergency personnel and healthcare professionals deal with on a daily basis. It is “part of their job” and, for the most part, they deal with these traumas with minimal impact to their personal lives. But sometimes, the trauma is just too out of the ordinary and those we rely on for help need help themselves. That is where the High Country Crisis Support Team can assist. In the summer of 2012, this area was hit by one unthinkable tragedy after another. Our law enforcement, fire fighters, EMTs and hospital personnel were pushed beyond the point any of us would want to go and they needed support. That summer it became apparent that although there was support available, there was a need for additional team members and a more unified response in the High Country.
The current members of this team include mental health professionals (Kristin Harmon, Lisa Shelton, Eva Trivett-Clark, and Carrie Richardson), law enforcement officers (Kelly Redmon and Rebecca Russell), EMS (Mark Cook, Tony Cook, Randy Collins), hospital staff (Tammara Burleson) and chaplains (Bud Russell and Dennis Quackenboss). In addition to completing the CISM training all team members go through an application and interview process, abide by codes of conduct and confidentiality, attend quarterly meetings, and receive ongoing education. All services are provided free of charge to the emergency response community and all team members volunteer their time to this effort.
Since its formal organization this team has responded to approximately 9 critical incidents and has collaborated with other CISM teams in the area. Incidents have included violent death, line of duty death, accidental death, and fatalities involving infants and children. Through these interventions this team has directly impacted the lives of more than 150 emergency response professionals dealing with trauma. The High Country Crisis Support Team is sponsored by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Employee Assistance program as part of their mission to make life better for those in the High Country.
If anyone has any questions about the High Country Crisis Support Team please contact them at 828-964-4032 or 828-964-4035.