What is the overall goal of the Missouri Post Critical Incident Seminar (MO-PCIS)?
The goal of MO-PCIS is to assist participants turn vulnerability into strength. This is accomplished through support from peer team members and specialized mental health professionals, who are dedicated to helping helpers. Program graduates will learn that it is okay to talk about their experience and this opens the door for others to share and heal from their experiences, too. PCIS is intended for personnel who have experienced a critical incident more than three weeks prior to the PCIS, and who still experience any number of symptoms, such as vivid memories, flashbacks, triggers, or other psychological, social, or emotional consequences from their involvement in the event. Trauma effects each person differently. For example, it is not uncommon for one first responder at a critical incident to experience no symptoms, while another may experience any number of symptoms. Both responses can be considered normal human reactions.
What is a traumatic or critical Incident?
A traumatic or critical incident is any event that results in an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and/or loss of control. These can include, but are not limited to, officer-involved shootings, witnessing a death or suicide, child fatalities, mass casualty events, critical media attention, personal distress, sustaining serious injury, line of duty deaths, failed rescue attempts, etc. Despite the best support immediately following a critical incident, often long lasting effects remain. Experiencing a critical incident can alter a person’s worldview, making them feel vulnerable, emotionally damaged, and isolated.
What will I get out of PCIS?
Participants will receive education about the effects of experiencing a traumatic event, patterns of resolution, along with field-tested coping strategies to promote recovery and resilience. Peer team members and mental health professionals who have had similar traumatic experiences and survived help promote participant normalization and recovery. One can think of them as a river guide helping whitewater rafters navigate treacherous paths where obstacles might exist. At MO-PCIS, officers, dispatchers, spouses or significant others, will be given an opportunity to share their unique story. They will receive interpersonal support and other resources to help them move beyond their critical incident(s). Participants will return home re-energized, healthier, and excited to share new skills with others.
What can I expect my experience to be at PCIS?
MO-PCIS will likely have a similar format as our sister PCISs in other states. Participants who require overnight lodging can expect to arrive on the Sunday evening before PCIS. Monday will consist of PCIS staff introductions and lessons learned from other seasoned officers, dispatchers, spouses, significant others, and peers. If they desire to do so, participants will have an opportunity to share their story with others in the room. The sharing of stories helps participants to realize that they are not alone in their experience and to find support in others who have experienced similar critical incidents. On Tuesday, participants will be appointed to smaller groups based upon the type of traumatic exposure of each. The goal is for each small group to consist of participants that have had similar experiences. On Wednesday, participants will meet together in audience setting to received specialized training about the effects of trauma, and learn coping skills. During each day of the PCIS, other special services will be available for use, including one-on-one with health professionals, chaplains, and/or peer team members.
How much does it cost to attend MO-PCIS?
In 2019, the Missouri legislature provided funding for two PCISs annually. This funding covers the cost of lodging, meals, training, treatment, and registration for up to 35 in-state participants (and their spouses/significant others) at each PCIS. This funding affords smaller or more rural departments the opportunity to send personnel who need help and support when help would otherwise have been unaffordable because of smaller budgets. Out-of-state agencies sending personnel to MO-PCIS must cover lodging and travel costs for their out-of-state personnel.
May I bring my spouse (or significant other) with me to PCIS?
Yes! We encourage participants to bring their spouse/significant other for a number of reasons. One reason is that for the first time, many spouses/significant others will hear their partner’s full story. Even so, most will have already noticed how the traumatic event has affected the participant, the marriage, and/or the family. Trauma exposure has a ripple effect. What is the participant’s original exposure may ripple out to friends, family, and coworkers. By having spouses/significant others attend the PCIS, they will be able to meet other spouses/significant others who have similar concerns and experiences. There are opportunities to visit with other affected spouses/significant others, which can provide healing and set the stage for development of lifetime friendships and support.
When will the next MO-PCIS be scheduled?
When a date is determined in advance of each PCIS, it will be posted on the Patrol’s website. It is desired that one semi-annual PCIS be hosted in the first six months of the year, while the second semi-annual PCIS be hosted in the last six months. Due to the logistics required for coordinating dates, locations, and meals with providers and PCIS staff, each PCIS date established will be posted on the Patrol’s website as soon as it is known. If there is an urgent need to send a participant to PCIS prior to the next MO-PCIS date, other state PCISs should be considered. A current list of known PCIS dates for a number of states is maintained by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, and can be viewed by clicking here.