After the Webinar: Post Critical Incident Seminar. Q&A with the Panelists

Webinar presenters Andy Carrier, John McGuire, Kit Cummings, Rita Watkins, and Rev. Eric Skidmore answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Post Critical Incident Seminar: A Tested Solution for Helping Cops Recover from the Worst Incidents. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: So, could you do the 30,000-foot view, or maybe one of the panelists, can you do a 30,000-foot view, of what the PCIS program is? A quick operational overview, again, whether it’s you or perhaps somebody on the panel. 

Kit Cummings: So, it’s an experiential seminar designed for folks who have experienced a critical event. Whether it is in their professional life or in their personal life. And it might be an event that they seem to be stuck on. They just can’t fully move past all the signs and symptoms that one might experience post-trauma. And when they come to this seminar, they will meet a number of other people, depending on the state program. Our participant groups vary a little bit from state to state, and the team makeup might vary, but they’re going to meet people who have walked similar paths of trauma. Then, as I’ve said earlier, they’re also going to meet some folks who’ve walk some very different paths of trauma, And we identify and explore some of the different themes that are common to trauma, some that make particular trauma unique. That is pretty much what we do with day one. We explore what brought all of our participants to this event. Much of day two and day three is spent with some didactic training, where folks learn just exactly what trauma is, how trauma might affect us mentally and physiologically. The exploration continues into how it affects relationships, how we interact with the world. And then day three is spent a great deal of the didactic time on, on the third day is spent exploring how we get back out into the world, how we live the rest of our personal lives, and how we have, how we hope that meshes with a successful professional life. And in addition to this didactic training and the experiential immersion into our own and our peers trauma, we have folks then break out into smaller groups based on either the type of trauma they’ve experienced, or the type of theme that’s involved in their event, or in their difficulties. And we find that being able to then speak with four, five, or six of their peers about very similar specific themes and events, they’re able to explore their own feelings, their own emotions, their own life more effectively. And they also have, as Rita had made mention too. Every single one of our participants has an opportunity to speak with a mental health professional, and EMDR is made available to them, if it’s appropriate. If they choose, they may not go through EMDR. But at least they’re going to have the opportunity for a conversation with a competent mental health professional. All of our participants have an opportunity to experience medical massage. And we feel that it is critically important for our folks to not just address the troubles of the mind, but also the body. And as our massage therapists like to say, the issues are frequently in the tissues. So, we addressed that as well. And then recently, we introduced some different types of therapy, including acupuncture, and we’re very excited about that. We’re always exploring new things. So, as you can see or hear, the program is very diverse, and we try to address the broad spectrum of things that people bring to us.



Audience Question: Sandy wanted to know how could an EMDR or perhaps an acupuncturist, how can we get involved in our own area of PCIS programs? So, there are practicing professionals and they want to support the PCIS program. 

Rita Watkins: Yeah. So, let’s say a therapist is in Texas, my contact information is on this contact information sheet, or as a handout, drop me an e-mail. Give me a call that is my cell number. Let’s have a conversation. Yes. I think this goes back to our earlier hour, when we were talking about building our capacity, that’s continual. It will be for a long time. So yes. Thank you very much. If you are interested to make that contact, make that phone call.



Audience Question: Next question. And, Rita, I’m betting that I’m going to start with Eric and see if this is where he wants to go. Who’s Doctor Rando? 

Rita Watkins: Doctor Rando is if you do a Google search on Doctor Rando, you will find out that she is our one of our country’s leading phanthologist. And I had to look up that word because I wanted to know more about Doctor Rando. And Doctor Rando is a faculty member who has been working extensively and researching extensively on grief and trauma. And she is one of the mental health professionals and one of the mental health team members in the South Carolina, North Carolina, and, I believe, Georgia PCIS, as well.

Host: What was that what you said, Rita, Anthologist, what did you say?

Rita Watkins: Phanthologist. It’s a researcher who studies grief, death, mourning, bereavement, and trauma. And researches that, and provides just an amazing amount of information, and really looks at that research, those particular research topics on how to provide people with information on the wellness, and how to recover from trauma and grief.



Audience Question: How has COVID changed the PCIS experience?

Rev. Eric Skidmore:  But let me ask John to address that first, and I will say all three of the program represented here on the screen have found a way to do an adapted model of the PCIS during these, John?

John McGuire: So, we have one scheduled for June, which unfortunately, we had to cancel. But that gave us longer to prepare for August. So, the way we set it up, we follow both the CDC guidelines and our own governors’ guidelines on how to handle that safely. So, it hasn’t had an effect on us hosting the program. We just as kind of changed the way we do it. So, we do have people, as soon as they come, they check their temperature. We have a questionnaire to see whether they may meet any of the symptoms, were lucky to have a large venue. So, we’re able to spread people out. We’ve had to change the way, as far as when people tell their stories, Typically, a microphone is passed around. We disinfect microphones between each participant as it goes around. So, we use two different microphones to accomplish that. We’ve had to make changes in how meals are done and we used to have more of a buffet type style. It’s now box type lunches. So, we’ve pretty much gone through, like I said, all the CDC guidelines. The guidelines set up through our Department of Health and through our governor here, and made sure that we meet all those, those safety protocols and even go a little bit further to ensure the safety of our participants.

Rita Watkins: We’ve done the exact same thing in Texas. Exact same thing.

Kit Cummings: So, with, with our program, we have a smaller venue and where we’re accustomed to having a room that will accommodate 75 with the participants and the peers in the room at the same time. We found that, that space was really just not going to be suitable for that number of folks. So, in compliance with CDC guidelines, with the state guidelines, we want a different route. And we have cut in half our participant group. So, where we’re accustomed to hosting somewhere between 40 and 50 participants. In our PCIS last week, we hosted 20, and we moved our peer team out of the primary classroom. And we created a rig integrating a camera, microphone, and utilizing a web-based platform. We transmitted the signal from the main classroom into a secondary classroom where the peer team was located, so that they could observe the entire process. They were part of the entire process without having to be physically in the room with the participants. And we found that, that we were able to stay within guidelines by doing that. It did lead to some occasional technical issues. and there was certainly a level of disconnect that we otherwise would not have. But the participants came through, and their comments to us were right in line with those that we received during a normal seminar. And so overall, we’re still navigating COVID world, but we’re pretty happy with the, the accommodations we’ve made so far. And otherwise our processes are much like Texas and Kentucky



Audience Question: How does one get trained to be part of a PCIS Team? What does that process look like? If they are in a state, one of the 10 states are doing PCIS. And then also, what if they’re in a state that doesn’t have PCIS. How can they get trained to become part of the PCIS family?

Eric Skidmore: Let me let me down in here, and then I’ll ask the team membership, I want to add a word, I think it really depends on the team in each state. So, for example, Texas, Rita would be the, and her leadership would be the controlling people about invitation to the peer team. It’s a great honor to be on these teams, by the way. And we have many more folks, often than we can accommodate. And if we had, twelve PCIS as a year, in each state, we’ll need teams. But you go through the leadership in each state, and I believe part of that training is going through a basic level of CISM training. Part of it is coming as an official observer to a PCIS and or, coming as a participant at a PCIS, that’s often the way. So, each state sort of set their standards. And I can tell you, when our team in South Carolina gathers, it’s very much like a homecoming event. They love to be together. They would not miss a PCIS, if they can help it. We’ve been doing it 20 years in South Carolina, and some of those peers have been with us the whole time.

Rita Watkins: Yeah, you’ve described it just the way we would do it in Texas.

John McGuire: Yes, that’s what we do here as well.

Kit Cummings: Yep, and we do, We do much the same. All of our, our peers come through as participants, though, because we do want them to have that critical experience. To know what it’s like to sit on that side of the table before they, before they can tend to anyone else. They have to know what it’s like to receive services

Eric Skidmore: And I would, I would say, that each PCIS belongs to its state. So, John and his leadership team, it is their PCIS. Rita’s same, Kit’s same, South Carolina, each state. Our hope and dream are that one day every state will have their own PCIS that they manage, that they oversee. And the last thing I want to say, Chris, we’re so sorry that Captain Andy Carrier was not able to be with us today. He was with the Georgia State Patrol. And he had an emergency that he had to attend to right here at the start of the seminar.


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