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Pataskala man among new Southeast Ohio CISM volunteers

Ron Crawford still gets tears in his eyes when he talks about losing his friend, fellow fire fighter David Theisen.

Theisen, of Worthington, died when a flash fire erupted while he was fighting a blaze in February


"They were in a basement, and they lifted up ceiling tiles to get at the fire, and that let in oxygen. Everything that was in that basement got so hot, it all caught fire," Crawford said, his voice quivering. "I almost quit fire fighting after that." Nearly five years after losing his friend, the pain is still obvious.

Crawford was in Ironton Friday for training in Critical Incident Stress Management. He wants to use the skills he learns to help fellow service providers with desperately needed stress management. The CISM team will help service providers cope with the stress of their professional lives. This may be in the form of crisis intervention immediately after a large scale event, such as a fire or flood. It may be in the form of ongoing support on a regular basis.

"I hope I never have to use this information," Crawford said. "But if I can help one person with what I learn, I will do it. I've been there. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world. Some people can not understand when we talk about losing a brother or sister. That's what it feels like when you lose a fellow fire fighter."

Crawford said he will not only serve on a CISM team in the Pataskala area; he also wants to be a part of the newly forming CISM team in Southeast Ohio, which includes Lawrence County.

"My wife is from Pedro," Crawford said. "Her step- father was fire chief in Elizabeth Township for years and years. I want to give something back to the community." Crawford's wife is the former Vicki Bradshaw. Her step-father was Gene Stamper.

Crawford was one of a number of health care workers, emergency service providers and others who attended the one- day seminar.

"If you don't have a healthy provider, you don't have a healthy community," said Linda Edrington, Ohio State Coordinator for Critical Incident Stress Management Network. She is also a trained trainer for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. "We want them to understand they're not alone."

"Critical Incident Stress Management is helping normal human beings who have encountered abnormal events," explained Renelle Grubbs, Executive Director of

Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board. She is also a trained trainer for the ICISF. "Crisis and tragedy happens on a day-to-day basis, and few people pause to understand the impact on individuals and families and communities. Having peers who are there for you makes all the difference in the world."

Both Edrington and Grubbs praised the work of Shirley Mannon, who is serving as Lawrence County's CISN director/coordinator. .

"Lawrence County is lucky to have her," Edrington said. "She's providing good leadership."