Webinar presenters Rev. Eric Skidmore and Dr. Joseph Cheng answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Post Critical Incident Seminar: What You Can Do When Things Aren’t Getting Better. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Joe, well, let me repeat what I think many of us heard that the PCIS does seem to improve situations for participants in terms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, et cetera, over time. Is that right?
Dr. Joseph Cheng: Yes. Yeah. That seems to be the case now. Again, I think I showed here in graphical or numerical form, what Eric and his staff, his team have long observed just on a person to person basis, but yes, absolutely.
Audience Question: So then following up to that, did your analysis reveal what the secret ingredient is? What is the magic to it? Is it the group collegiality? Is it the retreat function? What is it that makes it so different?
Dr. Joseph Cheng: Oh, yeah. Thank you for the question, is. So, for programmatic research really find trying to find the secret in this sauce, believe me, that this is not something we would keep to ourselves if we knew. We would definitely disseminate it widely. What we’re doing, what had begun with some of these follow-up surveys, and what we’re continuing to do is building questions, asking the participants what they found helpful. I have a slide that I don’t, I didn’t include here goes into the weeds a little bit, but we did ask some of those questions. What parts of the PCIS that they find most helpful? And when we applied analysis to those answers, interestingly, no specific feature stood above the rest.
Audience Question: So maybe it is the combination of the features?
Dr. Joseph Cheng: It may be the combination, and again, this is a preliminary study with low numbers but yeah, it seems like the combination itself just works very well.
Rev. Eric Skidmore: So, Doctor Rumbaugh(?) up in Rhode Island has reflected on that question with us before. She talks about it in terms of just this constellation of curative factors brought together in one place and I’m not sure I’m going to say it any better than that. I think the use of EMDR in the context of the PCIS is critical. I think the peer portion is critical. It’s like Mother Teresa said, “Come and see, it’s amazing.”
Audience Question: Janice wanted to know about the video clip that we showed, she couldn’t hear it. Eric, can I follow up with you after the webinar and get the link again to that video so that we can share that with the audience?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: Certainly, and if you look at the bottom of my contact information, the scleap.org, the video is there under the PCIS Program. It says, “Watch Video” and Dr. Solomon’s words are embedded in a 25-minute video there.
Audience Question: Are the seminars available for Canadian officers or if their agencies could come down and officially observe?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: Yes. Well, part two, yes. So, I’m not sure where they live but the good news is the OPP has sent officers who’ve been involved in the Ontario provincial police has sent officers who have been involved in critical incidents and they have sent two of their commanders down in hopes of bringing the PCIS to Canada. If they e-mail me, I will share the contact information of the Canadians who have been, and I think there’s some real energy especially in Ontario to create a Canadian version.
Audience Question: On that same thought a couple of folks wanted to know if there had been any interest from agencies or entities in Arizona?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: So, there has been an interest in Arizona though, there’s a program that’s doing something similar. I think some members of our clinical team, Ron Davenport from Houston, and Andy Ruler from here in South Carolina, assisted in a kind of a pilot project in Arizona. I’m not sure who the point of contact is there but I can find that if they will e-mail me, I can connect them with whoever that person is but yes, yes, there is some interest in Arizona.
Audience Question: Does this program have to be run by law enforcement only? Could it be housed in another part of the government sector?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: Well, so my response to that is very much the population we’re serving is law enforcement. I believe with my whole heart that it is working in South Carolina already with the Department of Corrections. So, the corrections department is doing a standalone program. Very soon fire and EMS in South Carolina will be creating a PCIS program for Fire and EMS. There is a military version but there is something we were talking about: the secret sauce. I think there is something about a particular discipline and the peers within that discipline coming together and assisting each other. I had a North Carolina Trooper tell me one time in a 30-year career, he had done a lot of very cool things with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol but the best thing he ever did was help other police officers. I’m not sure I answered that question but maybe they could flesh that out some for me.
Audience Question: Could you repeat again how many people are in attendance for each seminar?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: Sure. So, our target audience for South Carolina PCIS is 35 officers and as many spouses, significant other partners as we can persuade to come. It’s Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the day so it’s often difficult for spouses and others to come. We normally get between 10 and 15, if we have 35 officers, we normally get between 10 and 15 spouse participants. We have had more than that, but that invitation is a very important piece. We have a waiting list almost every time we do this. But I would say in the range of 25 officers to 35 officers sometimes a few more if need be, is a good measure. I got a 35 number from Dr. Solomon.
Audience Question: Several people are asking about the costs for a participant to attend and who pays? Is it the individual, or is that the agency? Or is that grant-funded?
Rev. Eric Skidmore: So, yes, yes, and yes. So, it varies from state to state. In the state of South Carolina, the sending agency, we asked them to pay for the housing for the officer but that’s the only thing we ask them to pay for. The $30,000 that my office will spend, whether it’s state funds or non-profit funds or grant funding, that covers the whole cost of the team, their housing, and their food and transportation. It covers all the food for everyone on-site from Monday through Wednesday afternoon. Some agencies will decide to send their officers and ask them to commute if it’s close enough. But there are other states that do it a little bit differently. They have enough money to pay for the whole hotel cost and food cost for everyone. Sometimes agencies from out of state, will say so we want to pay for our officers to come, what is the cost? So, basically, we come up with the cost of taking $30,000 and dividing it by 35. That’s what? $800, $900, something like that. If we were charging, that’s what it would cost. But when we first started this in South Carolina, we were trying to provide, whether you were a 600 member agency that you could afford to send your people or you were a two-person agency, where you didn’t have the money to do anything, hardly. We wanted it to be for everybody. So that’s why we try and only charge the cost of housing from the sending agencies. We raise the rest of the money ourselves.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Post Critical Incident Seminar: What You Can Do When Things Aren’t Getting Better.