Stress management ready to work with hurricane volunteers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

One local group is ready to serve those who have served others.

Members of the Lawrence County Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM) are working with members of the South West Ohio CISM to debrief Ohio recovery teams returning from the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort.

Critical incident stress management provides emotional support and counseling to emergency services workers and medical professionals in both routine duty circumstances and after large scale events such as the hurricane recovery and clean up. The aim is to allow people who encounter life and death circumstances in their work to have an outlet for the emotions they encounter as a result of what they see.

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"This is very important," Shirley Mannon, Lawrence County's CISM coordinator, said. "We can go help people but we can't do that without collecting some (emotional) baggage of our own. It is important that those who go to Louisiana be able to come home and release some of that stress in confidentiality."

The local organization has 35 trained members and six core members who are on call for the debriefing work. They travel as far away as Columbus and Cincinnati to meet with returning recovery teams.

"It's a heartache. None of us who have not been there can possibly fathom the destruction these people see and the emotional toll it takes on people," Mannon said.

Lawrence County's CISM was formed in 2002.