We all know the choice to pursue a career in emergency medical services is an honorable one. We also know there are days and even long seasons where the things medics see, hear, and deal with begin taking a toll on minds and bodies. This is where a unique employee resource with Austin-Travis County EMS comes in. Did you know that an EMS Peer Support Team was established in 2015 to help serve the needs of our fellow medics through hard times and difficult situations?
The mission of the team is to provide effective peer to peer interventions for ATCEMS Employees in response to work-related stress, critical incidents and burnout. The Peer Support education is a structured curriculum taught by Dr. Tania Glenn through a series of lessons over a period of three days. The training includes information such as the process of recovery, wellness and self-care, symptoms and coping skills as well as what to expect from professional mental health services and self-advocacy. The Peer Support personnel understand and share the stress of the EMS environment. The Peer Support process has been shown repeatedly to be very effective and valuable tool for helping first responders mitigate harmful stress responses that typically manifest when the job becomes overwhelming or extremely negative.
WHAT IS THE PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM?
The program is free of charge and available to all of our ATCEMS personnel. Peers help peers with day-to-day stressors and high stress environments. Peers know when and how to intervene in crisis situations. Peers have an organized approach to cope with stress in the workplace. Emotional support dogs have also been integrated into the services provided, in order to allow employees to use a furry friend in coping with a difficult time.
WHAT DO PEER SUPPORT TEAM MEMBERS DO?
They want to be of help, and are trained to listen and talk with peers who want or need opportunities to talk. They respect the need for anonymity and confidentiality. The primary responsibilities of the Peer Support Team members is to provide listening support, referral information and psychological support for fellow teammates who have been involved in a critical incident, job related stress and/or suffering personal issues. They are not authorized to act as psychological counselors. The role of the Peer Support Team member is one of support in dealing with negative reactions to a stressful situation.
WHO ARE THE PEER SUPPORT TEAM MEMBERS?
Peer Support personnel consist of a wide variety of individual personalities and backgrounds that transcends all ranks and levels within Austin-Travis County EMS. The Peer Support Team is a trustworthy group of professionals who are committed to assisting those in need and will always maintain the utmost discretion and confidentiality. They are dedicated advocates for those in need, providing support and assisting individuals going through difficult times without judgment, retribution, retaliation or fear of a negative impact or job loss. The Peer Support Team is about helping people in a healthy way by reducing stress and assisting in emotional healing through difficult situations that arise in our daily lives.
DID YOU KNOW? PEER SUPPORT HAS 6 OVERALL GOALS:
To provide a system of trusted support that will aid employees in resolving situations affecting their personal and professional environments.
To foster the physical, emotional, and social health of employees.
To provide information about various aspects of Peer Support through educational materials and their resources.
To provide a liaison between the employee and resources available to them.
To develop and implement a Peer Support Training Program.
To work in conjunction with the Peer Support Teams of APD, AFD, and Victim Services (COA) to promote cross-agency dissemination of training materials and opportunities and to establish working relationships across public safety peer support members.
DID YOU KNOW? PEER SUPPORT PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS:
Happier healthier employees
Higher retention of valued personnel
Decreased use of sick leave and medical benefits
An avenue for employees to know what support services are available to them
Enhanced job satisfaction
Empower people to work to solve their own problems
Assist individuals in feeling less isolated and more understood
Reduces anxiety, improves self-esteem, and helps provide a sense of well-being
Additional information, brochures and posters are available for all employees.
Peer Support Team Members shall not discuss information obtained while acting in a peer support capacity with anyone. They shall not divulge shared information with other employees, family members, friends, supervisors/ management, or the general public. Communication between a Peer Support Team member and a peer is considered confidential, except for a few specific instances defined by the Texas Health and Safety Code: 1) Imminent threat to self or others, 2) suspected or alleged child or elder abuse, 3) other instances required by law.
ATCEMS EMPLOYEES IN NEED OF THIS SERVICE, PLEASE LOGIN TO YOUR ATCEMS INSIDE PORTAL FOR PEER SUPPORT CONFIDENTIAL HOTLINE INFORMATION.