The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) recently honored members of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team for their actions on September 16, 2013 during the Navy Yard Shooting that took place in Washington D.C. The ceremony was held Wednesday, January 8th in conjunction with the Howard County Police Department (HCPD), the Naval District of Washington’s Fire & EMS Department, Police Department and the Emergency Management & Dispatch Center.
“The events that took place at the Navy Yard were a tragedy that our country has become all too familiar with in recent years,” said County Executive Ken Ulman. “Our team of first responders was there providing the necessary counseling and intervention for those personnel who initially responded to the shooting. Their support aided the recovery and healing of our community and our nation.”
The team that deployed was comprised of 11 personnel to include firefighters, paramedics, police officers, 911 dispatchers, behavioral health professionals and clergy. On September 16th, the request came following an “active shooter” incident that occurred at the Washington Navy Yard earlier that morning. The Navy Yard of Washington’s Fire & EMS commanders determined that multiple crews and departments had exposure to this traumatic event and required CISM services. Those that responded from Howard County were awarded a unit citation for providing stress intervention and counseling during those critical first hours after the shooting and in the days that followed.
“As first responders, crisis scenarios are part of the job,” said Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard. “But taking care of our own is equally important. It means a lot to us to have served the Navy Yard’s first responders in that way. We gave them the support they needed to decompress and fully process what they encountered.”
The Howard County CISM team was formed in the mid-1980’s and is comprised of 15 members. These members provide one-on-one crisis interventions, grief counseling, psychological support, group sessions and countless hours of support for first responders and the families of first responders. In the past, this team has responded after the Ellicott City Train Derailment, Hurricane Andrew and flooding in the Midwest.