JIBC graduates gain the tools to help co-workers manage critical incident stress

Christi Gamble, JIBC CISM graduateChrysti Gamble completed JIBC’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program and gained the information and best practices to create CISM teams to support staff when needed in the workplace. (Photo and story by Richard Chu)


As a Senior Safety Advisor at SkyTrain, Chrysti Gamble is focused on supporting the health and safety of staff and customers using the Lower Mainland’s rapid transit system. In 2013, she teamed up with a union employee, Michelle Laurier, to take JIBC’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program, which is designed for frontline and management staff to support individuals dealing with the immediate consequences of a traumatic event.

“We are always looking to improve the wellness and safety of our staff,” said Gamble. “We talked about putting together a peer critical incident stress management team, so we teamed up to take the JIBC program.”

They were taught by leading experts in the field, Bruce Ramsay and Dr. Laurie Pearce. “They have so much knowledge and real-world experience, so we learned a lot.”

Unlike counsellors that are trained to help individuals deal with the long-term effects of a traumatic experience or event, CISM team members in an organization provide an immediate support for those affected by a critical incident, like a sudden death of a co-worker, or being involved in an accident, or a major disaster.

“It’s an immediate support within 24 hours of an event, up to 30 days after, to help someone through the feelings and emotions they may be facing. Initially after a traumatic event, you go into a fight, flight or freeze state, and your brain can’t process what’s going on. What we were taught are the tools and models that are used to help a person sort out what they are feeling and recognizing that there might be some stress responses they are not aware of. It’s an immediate, complementary response to the work of counsellors, who are there to help you get through the trauma longer term.”

Since completing the certificate last year, Gamble and Laurier employed much of what they learned. “We were taught how to build a team; what to look for in potential team members; the best ways to do it; and issues that might come up. Everything that was taught, we used. It’s been really useful and the staff at SkyTrain really appreciate it.”

“It’s important for people to know that the CISM program is out there and employers and staff can work together on this. It’s beneficial in any workplace, because anybody can face trauma at any time.”

Stay up to date about the latest course offerings you’re most interested in and subscribe to JIBC’s customizable email mailing list. For details about upcoming courses in JIBC’s Critical Incident Stress Management Certificate, visit the program’s webpage or send an email to cism@jibc.ca.

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