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PODCAST: Psychological Support for First Responders with Kimble Richardson

Updated: May 1


Clinical Coordinator and instructor for several Indiana Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams, and the coordinator for the Indiana District 5 Resilience and Emotional Support Team, psychologist Kimble Richardson, MS, LMHC, LCSW, LMFT, LCAC discusses the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) system and psychological support for first responders and others involved in critical incidents.


Sharing his experiences providing Psychological First Aid and other forms of psychological support in response to critical incidents of all kinds that place people at risk for traumatic stress injuries, including the April 15, 2021, mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, as well as the importance of teamwork and partnership in CISM responses and the critical role of peer support staff members of CISM teams.






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Transcript


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Hi! Robert Ohlemiller here for the Global First Responders Summit. We're here on day three, taking on the topic of emotional fitness and resilience. I'm excited to have with me Kimble Richardson, a leading expert, leader, and practitioner in critical incident stress management. How are you, Kimble? 


Kimble Richardson: 

Very well. Thank you so much, Robert. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

I'm going to tell our audience a little bit about you. They will jump into our conversation, which is titled "Resilience: Looking Back Moving Forward." 


Kimble has a master's degree in counseling from Indiana University and has close to 35 years of experience in behavioral health. Currently, he is the manager of business development and referrals for a community health network based in Indianapolis. He is licensed in Indiana as a mental health counselor, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, and clinical addiction counselor. 


He holds an appointment from the governor and is the chair of the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensure board. He is the former president of the Indiana Mental Health Counselors Association and was named both Mental Health Counsellor of the Year and Distinguished Counsellor of the Year by the Indiana Counselling Association. 

He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Indianapolis as an instructor and clinical coordinator of several Critical Incident Stress Management or CISM teams. He is the coordinator for the Indiana District V Resilience and Emotional Support Team. 


In addition, Kimble is married and the father of adult twins. His wife is an intensive care nurse. Kimble is a long-term, long-time musician currently playing drums in three different bands, including the Gordon Piper's that has become something of an institution at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the past 60 years. Welcome, Kimble. And welcome to all our listeners. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Thank you so much for that. I didn't know you were going to flip the more personal things in there, but I appreciate you doing that. I'm not sure what part of my background might speak to some folks, but hopefully, I have a tiny bit of credibility with your audience. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Well, the more you speak, the more credibility you have. And, of course, with many of us, your reputation precedes you. In fact, talking about your resume and your activities, it's clearly showing that you've played and continue to play a fundamental role in the development of management of a robust statewide crisis intervention system of Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM. 


In Indiana, and that you've influenced CISM really well beyond the Hoosier State, CISM professionals, including many volunteers, operate and support police, corrections officers, first responders, and others who've been affected by trauma exposure, including many instances and intensely traumatic event. 


Please give us, if you would, a brief understanding of trauma and critical incident stress management, and tell us what types of circumstances and events set CISM in motion, as well as the makeup of your CISM teams. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Okay. Well, hang on. That's a lot to remember. You might have to remind me some of the finer points of that multipronged question, Robert, but thank you for focusing on mental health. Thank you for having me. I'm happy to offer my input and experience if that's helpful to some of your folks. 


Of course, there's not just one definition of trauma. But in general, we believe that it's the response that people have to potentially a critical incident or a series of critical incidents. And that just breaking it down means if you have something that's happened to you, for which your regular coping skills aren't doing their job, then it's a little overwhelming, and you might need a little extra support.  


People can have trauma in ways that we call primary traumatization, which means that an incident or series of things happen to you personally. Secondary trauma is when you listen to other people who've had trauma. You've listened to them talk about it. And then, vicarious trauma is what can happen to you if you are a helper and you're working with people, either in a counseling or perhaps first responder capacity. You're working with people who have been impacted by an event or a series of events. 


Any crisis intervention junkies out there like me know that there are several different ways that we can intervene. There are different psychological first aid and early psychological intervention techniques. 


One of the most comprehensive crisis platforms that I've been introduced to and that I know about is called Critical Incident Stress Management. And just a brief primer of that is that this is a comprehensive, integrated, strategic, and multi-component crisis intervention system. It was started in 1983 by Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell, who was a former medic, turned psychologist. 


He did some interventions as part of his doctoral thesis and invented this particular model of debriefing. He then got together with Dr. George Everly and other psychologists at Johns Hopkins and Loyola Universities. And together, they came up with a comprehensive system called Critical Incident Stress Management. 


You're right, Robert. Originally, it was used for first responder professionals. And then, it sort of branched out to different professions and cultures from there. After that, the airline industry picked it up and heard about it, and then healthcare, and then other businesses. Really, it's a system that helps people stay healthy and stay working while in service. I hope I captured all of that. If not, please ask again. I'll get the rest of those. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Amazingly complex questions. You did a very good job at the first couple of parts. I'm going to follow up with the other elements that you haven't quite gotten to yet. Essentially, the other questions were, what type of circumstances and events set CISM in motion? And secondly, what's the makeup of a CISM team, or if there are some other types of critical intervention teams that you'd like to talk about as well. 


Kimble Richardson: 

The cool thing about Critical Incident Stress Management, CISM, however you want to call it, the cool magic ingredient is peers. Peer support is the key ingredient. Now, you have to be trained in the model, so everybody is working in the same direction and understands the strategic planning and intervention. You follow the model. That's how it works. 

You want mental health professionals on your team, but it's primarily made up of peers. Peers can be whatever profession you're in. If you work in law enforcement, there are law enforcement people. There are dispatchers. There's fire, EMS. 


I work in healthcare. I helped to lead our healthcare network's internal peer support team. We have people from all parts of the hospital, all service lines of the hospital. We have a large team. We have about 80 people on our team. We help support a 16,000-member health care network called Community Health Network. People from all areas of the hospital; nurses, doctors, pharmacy, security, food services, environmental services, mental health, chaplaincy etc., etc. 


What we do to intervene is sometimes we can be proactive and do some education about stress management, which is really nice to do. But we can be reactive as well. Sometimes you respond to an event, or what we call a critical incident. Let me give you an example. 

A few months ago, here in Indianapolis, we had a terrible mass casualty shooting at one of our FedEx facilities. That was in April 2021. That was an event. So, it happened really in just a few minutes on one day. I was tasked with coordinating and doing much of the support response for that. That would be an example of a critical incident. 


Now, it doesn't have to be a big internationally known or written about the incident. It can be a one-person thing. You can intervene with people individually, in small or large groups. The groups can be interactive or informational. You have lots of tools in your toolkits. People have heard of the term debriefing, but that's just one part of Critical Incident Stress Management. 


And then, the other way that we respond is to a series of events that are more complex things like what's happened in the past year and a half to almost everybody in the world. Here in the United States, it's COVID-19 coming to our nation, the civil unrest, the racial strife, the political issues that we had going on, all of those things, and the economic fallout of all of that. So you can use these tools to be proactive, be reactive, responding to a specific event or a series of events.


Robert Ohlemiller: 

As you know, Kimble, I've spent a number of years, over three decades, with the Indiana Department of Correction. I'm somewhat familiar with the kind of critical incidents that happen in those environments. And also, the types of critical incident stress management policies and things they have in place, but not in every case are they able to capably or quickly respond to their own internal needs? For example, under what circumstance? And could you give us maybe an example of how you might also respond to another agency that is not necessarily police or first response but also in your public safety arena? 


Kimble Richardson: 

Before I got into doing crisis intervention work, the only thing I knew about banks was that's where I put my money. They are safekeeping. I really wasn't aware of, frankly, how many banks get robbed. And so, I've become fairly well acquainted with a variety of banks here in the greater Indianapolis area, and I say greater because it's Indianapolis and the surrounding seven counties are what we often call the donut counties. 


Sometimes I get requested to provide assistance after, say, a bank robbery. That's one way that it can be reactively used. But also, banks prepare new hires and refresh their current employees on how to respond, God forbid, but how to respond if they have a robbery. 

I think some banks are very forward-thinking, and they'll have somebody who has training in crisis intervention to be on site when these practice sessions occur, because I'm telling you, it feels real. I've been there when they've done these practice sessions many, many times, and never has it gone without somebody becoming upset. Or somebody was saying, "I'm not sure that this is the job for me." or "I wasn't quite ready for that. I wasn't prepared for this kind of reaction." 


It's really good to be able to talk to people right at the moment, right after something like that happens so they can get it out and they can understand, okay, it's pretty normal that you would have a reaction like that because this is not a normal situation. Not a normal event. So, those are just a couple of examples of how that's been used. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Thank you for that. That's a very good example in terms of the scope of the work you do and how the critical incident response can apply in just such a great variety of circumstances.


Kimble Richardson: 

Let me give you another example if you don't mind. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Yes, please. Go ahead. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Literally, just today. I'm one of the people that does an on-call rotation to be the coordinator of our internal peer support team for our healthcare organization. We just got a request today for one of our service lines, which has a department that just had about three or four difficult issues in a row. This is in addition to difficulty working with their patients. 


One of their staff is sick with COVID 19. One of their staff has fallen and broken both of her ankles, unfortunately. Some departments in healthcare are struggling to work full-staffed right now because of somewhat of a workforce shortage in certain areas and two or three other things. So, their whole department is under a tremendous amount of stress. They called our team to say, "Could you guys come and help us talk about these things? Give us some tips on how to cope and buoy us." Because again, what are our goals? What's our mission? 


It sounds simple, Robert, but it really can be complex. Our mission is to keep people healthy. That really means body, mind, and spirit. All three things. Keep people healthy and keep people working. We put something into place. We're literally right now figuring out, are we going to be on-site? Are we going to be virtual? 


I've been doing these techniques for over 30 years. I've never done anything virtually. I mean, I've been on crisis phone calls my entire career, but I'd never done any kind of technical group intervention, especially virtually, until March 2020. So, I didn't have any experience with it, but we had to pivot very quickly in many instances. And now, I've done literally hundreds of them virtually. I think in-person is better, but virtual absolutely can work and does a pretty good job if you can't be in person. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Well, thank you. Given that resilience is literally the primary topic of today here at the summit, could you explain just really what resilience is and how it figures into the process and goals of critical incident response? 


Kimble Richardson: 

Well, I think not only resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from a critical incident. It's sort of like the old notion of a weeble. You know, those toys that we had when some of us were kids. We had this saying that weebles wobble, but they don't fall down. They were just like a doll that was weighted on end, and you could push them back and forth, but they would always end up righting themselves. That's how I picture resilience in that you can absorb something difficult but bounce back. 


The other interesting thing about resilience is that sometimes people can have what we call post-traumatic growth. That means that you can be even better, healthier than you were prior to the traumatic incident or prior to the trauma. That's a very helpful thing because it's hard to know sometimes. You look at people walking around, wherever you are, and you just don't know who's injured. You don't know what people have been through emotionally, psychologically. You can't always tell from the outside. You can if someone's in a cast, for example, or an arm sling. 


I think we want to have a lot of grace, compassion for folks, even if they sometimes are acting like jerks. That there's probably something behind it. And maybe there's something that we just don't know about. But these techniques can help people absorb a trauma, bounce back to baseline, and sometimes even grow beyond that, which is again, a really cool thing that Dr. George Everly and some of his colleagues have been proposing to Johns Hopkins and other research that they're doing is this whole notion of being resistant to stress. 


So, not only being resilient, bouncing back but is it even possible to be resistant to ward off stress reactions. It's almost like getting inoculated. Part of the way that we do that is we teach people stress management techniques. We teach people about trauma, about critical incidents so that they don't feel like they're all alone. They don't feel like they're going crazy. They do have some skills that they can use in their hip pocket if they need to. So, thank you. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Thank you, Kimble. Well, I know you've already addressed the next question, at least partially. We talked about how the pandemic is disrupted the way you do business. But obviously, it's had broad implications. It's disrupted the lives of virtually everyone throughout the world. Livelihoods, health, commerce in just so many ways. 


So, other than in ways you've already addressed, or perhaps even expanding on what you've already mentioned in terms of having to go virtual with some of your interventions, how has the pandemic affected CISM and related critical incident responses? The process, the men and women who deliver the system. And really, what have you learned? What have been the lessons learned over the last year and a half? 


Kimble Richardson: 

The lessons that I think, me and my colleagues have learned are a couple of big ones. One is we need to network. This isn't a technique. These aren't teams that work alone. It's better when you have partners, even if it's for consultation. 


We had to pivot to do some pretty creative and different things this past year. So, you want to be connected with people who have had experience doing this work, maybe are one or two steps advanced in their experience or knowledge than what your team is, so you can learn. And then, they can learn from you and from your experience. 


I think that it's important to be very interconnected. We've been able to do that, frankly, a little easier the past year because all of our statewide meetings have been virtual. They had been in person prior to that. And sometimes not everybody can make the teams. If it's a statewide team, some people travel two or three hours just to get to a meeting one way. 


And then, the other thing that's been super important, for again, for me personally and for my colleagues, is self-care. Most people that I know of who do crisis intervention work are pretty hardy people, pretty good at putting dirt on it and getting right back in the game. I mean, they're get-it-done people, if you will. At the same time, we are human. And the things that have presented themselves to us, knock on wood we'll never face again in our lifetime, hope to goodness, but if we do, at least we have a little bit more experience on how to deal with it. But it's been a lot. And so, we've really had to pivot to focusing on self-care too. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Thank you, Kimble. Self-Care is something that all too many people in the helping professions focus on last, it seems like. They don't really realize it until their tank is empty. I talked to a gentleman the other day who happened to be diabetic and just had not been taken care of himself because of his care, concern, time, and devotion to the welfare of others. And so, the focus on self-care maybe one of the silver linings of the pandemic. 


Kimble Richardson: 

There you go. That's a nice way to reframe. That's exactly right because most of us live in a world plugging along doing everything. Most of us are busy anyway. And then, we do crisis intervention. It's generally not our primary job. It might be in addition to other things, projects, and things that we've got going on. So, you're right. This really did force us to take a good hard look at what we need to do to be good to ourselves so that we can ultimately do what we love to do, which is to help support other people. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Very good. Kimble, I've heard you talk of one of the fundamental processes of CSM. As you indicated, the post-incident debriefing is only one of those, but I remember you mentioning just how important it is for those affected by a given incident really to be able to speak in a safe, supportive environment and be heard. So, could you kind of expand on that, please? 


Kimble Richardson: 

People from Indianapolis, Indiana, will know about this. Some other people may remember. "Oh, yeah. I do recall that happen." In just a few days, it'll be the 10th year anniversary of the Indiana State Fair stage collapsing, where, unfortunately, seven people died. Almost 60 People had non-fatal injuries but severe injuries. 


I was there at the fair that night. I also was part of the response team that was commissioned to help in the aftermath. And just last week, somebody called me and said, "Hey, could I talk to you for a minute about something?" Sure. Sure. So, we got together. And they said, "I'm struggling, man. I'm struggling with this anniversary that's going to happen pretty soon." They were also at the fair that night and saw people that have died and dealt with a lot of those issues. 


And so, as we were talking, this is a little bit of a long way to get to your questions, Robert, but as we were talking, they said it helped to know that I also knew what they were talking about. I knew it because not only was I there, but I also responded to the event and heard the stories and was privy to some of the insight, if you will, information to what had happened in the aftermath. So, they felt comfortable because they didn't have to tell the story all over again. And that's a good thing about first responders. 


I'm a mental health professional. If I go to a fire department and they're sitting around talking about an equipment failure, for example. This happened one time. They were talking about equipment failure. I have no freaking idea what they're talking about. Do you know what I mean? But I kept my mouth shut at the time. Because otherwise, they were like, "What good is this guy? He doesn't even know what I'm talking about." Thankfully, there were other peers on the team, who were firefighting professionals, and who could say, "I know what you're talking about." So, people feel comfortable. They don't have to tell their story again.

 

I can tell them this affects me too. I give a presentation on bad events and the intervention that we do, probably once or twice a year, and I still get tearful every time. It takes me right back to when it happened and the ensuing several weeks after that. It's emotional. So, I could say with confidence, "You are not going crazy. You're normal. You're having a freaking normal response to something terrible." 


You can see their faces change. You literally see people change right before your eyes. That's the beautiful thing about some of these techniques. They literally said this. This is an extremely accomplished, bright person. And they said, "You don't think I'm weak? Do you think I'm going crazy? Do you think there's something wrong with me?" No, absolutely. I don't think in any of those categories. I would tell you I didn't think those things. Okay, but I don't. And just like that, it reminds me of everything that's been happening this past year that it sometimes has taken a year for us to absorb the impact of what's happened to some of us, especially if we were essential workers and first responders. So anyway, a safe place that's confidential and that when you're in a peer-to-peer capacity can be very powerful. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Not being thrown solutions of any sort, just knowing that someone is listening to you in an empathetic way is very valuable. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Very. One of the things that I remember in graduate school, an important lesson I learned was, "Professor of Mindset Kimble, don't just sit there. Shut up. Be quiet and listen." Listening is so powerful. And some of us that are like myself tend to be kind of action-oriented, like, let's get to it, let's fix it kind of thing itself. I do have to remind myself even now, even almost 35 years later, just to be quiet and listen. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Thank you for that, Kimble. I recall it. It wasn't that long ago during mental health month, the month of May. I believe that a particular event or celebration is national, if not international. But during that month, you participated in a panel discussion on one of our Wednesday night public safety video calls. You call for us to move from mental wellness to a mental fitness framework. Could you kind of explain the elements of this new framework?


Kimble Richardson: 

I wish that I had invented that term. Whoever first thought of it is brilliant. But I love the concept. I heard it really not too long ago, although maybe it's been around for a while, but I haven't seen it. I love the concept of mental wellness. I think that's important, of course, but mental fitness is, in my opinion, one step beyond, which is that we intentionally put skills into practice on a daily basis so that we can stay strong, fresh, nimble, flexible, resilient. And frankly, I hadn't thought about things in that conceptual way. 


Previously, I thought about, "Well, look, if you get stressed out, let's put some coping skills into place and let us teach you those so that you can use them if you need them." I really have pivoted to say, "Let's take a refresh. Let's put these skills into place." And whether it's every day or every other day, whatever, but they are intentional. It's just like physically working out. Okay? You don't just work out when you need to. You do it consistently. 

I can't tell you how beneficial the Centre for Mindfulness and Public Safety mindfulness classes have been to me personally, once a week on Wednesdays at 8 pm Eastern Standard Time for an hour. I've met so many good friends. I've learned so many techniques. I have been intentionally putting those into practice. So, that's mental fitness.

 

Robert Ohlemiller: 

As far as your routine and habits of personal self-care and mental fitness during the pandemic, is there anything aside from or in addition to coming on the Wednesday night calls and becoming more mindful in your focus and in your, perhaps daily practice of meditation when possible? 


Kimble Richardson: 

Right. Well, it's not going to be any surprise that the breathing techniques are so helpful. It's not that I never use them in my career. I certainly taught them to people, but not in the intentional way that I'm using them now. In our classes, I can tell that I'm better in terms of being able to focus on what's happening at the moment. I've got two or three things going on in my mind at the same time, I'm trying to work on several projects, and I'm a little bit of a, you know, "Oh, I just saw a squirrel. Let me get back to you in a minute." Do you know what I mean? 


So, being able to be still, being able to relax even if it's for a few seconds at that moment, controlling my breathing, and being aware of whatever emotion it is (sad, upset, mad, frustrated) as it's beginning to happen, so I don't feel so overwhelmed when it's like, I don't pay attention to it and all of a sudden, there it is, and you're like, "What the heck." So yeah, that's how the classes have been. And I've been trying to do those every day. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

So, you're aware of the values of mindfulness. And just for the benefit of our viewers, I just want to mention that some of the values of mindfulness include befriending and embracing and simply being with whatever is. And doing so with self-compassion and compassion for 

others, which strikes me as very compatible and supportive of critical incident response. What's been your experience? 


Kimble Richardson: 

I agree. It's really good to have people on your team or to be associated with people who have all different kinds of personality styles. I tend to be a guy to get up and go, "Let's do this thing." I mean, I can be calm when needed. My personality is a little bit more energetic if you will. It's nice to have people who have maybe just the opposite of that. They're unflappable. They're super calm, and they're always, you know, super even keel. That's helpful. 


Sometimes you need people like me to kind of be a cheerleader, and other times need people to not be so much that way. So, yeah. I think the marrying of the systems and the different techniques and the different skills had been so helpful this past year. But the important thing is, in my opinion, if you're going to use a technique that everybody is trained in that technique, and everybody is using it appropriately at the right time with the right audience with the right intervention, that they selected the right intervention. 

There's a lot of strategies, which also makes it very interesting to me that there's a lot of strategies that go into supporting people. It's not just that you're good with people, and you're interested in people, but there's some training involved. Otherwise, things can go south. You don't want to harm people. You want to help them. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Right. Another one of the main values of mindfulness is do no harm. The potential to unknowingly trigger someone being retraumatized, I mean, we can never look at a person and know the degree to which they have experienced prior trauma or what level of trauma, really any of us seem to be able to manage even in response to the same incident. 


It just seems, what you were talking about having the right skill at the right time, the awareness of being a mindfulness facilitator or user in an intervention mode, the awareness of the potential of the person you're working with to have had a traumatic incident in their past that somehow triggers a less than desirable response during the practice of mindfulness is truly an awareness. Fortunately, with the training I've had, they've done a wonderful job of really warning us that it's very, very necessary to be trauma-informed and trauma-responsive and to know the limits of your own skills and when to make a referral when to back off, how to make sure people know that if a practice is uncomfortable, they are the ones that make a choice about how deep they go when their eyes are closed, how deep they lean into some exercise or whatever, that you're trying to guide them in. 


Kimble Richardson: 

I agree with that. I agree with that. And also, this is a really nice time to be able to use your negotiation and diplomatic skills because sometimes, what other people think that they need or want, you certainly want to be respectful of that, but that may not be the best approach. I saw. 


So, quick case in point, I met with a leader of a large state agency in our state a couple of days ago. They said, "Our staffs are pretty stressed. We want some help. We'd like for you to do this." And so, my first reaction was, thank you for supporting your staff. Thank you for advocating for them. I'm so glad that you're thinking about mental health issues. That's awesome. 


Now, the second point, what you've asked for is okay. It's not wrong, but I don't think you're going to get the most out of it. I think there are other ways that our team can be supportive of you that will be a little better. Would you be willing to listen? 


And so, we had to negotiate a little bit back and forth. But it's nice to be able to understand what's available and to know the theory behind it too so that you can explain it to people. Why are you suggesting that? Why are you not suggesting the other? 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Thank you. Based on what we've discussed, based on your experience of mind, I think you'd agree that exposure to trauma, both primary and secondary, just seems endemic to the work of persons working in law enforcement, corrections, first response, health care, mental health. 


And then, maybe you've addressed this a little bit, but I just want to give you another chance to take another crack at it. How can persons be prepared for and perhaps even be inoculated against, if you will, the impact of trauma? And secondly, once a person is significantly affected by trauma, how can they adapt a new mindset toward their experience, allowing them to kind of understand, accept, and move on? 


Kimble Richardson: 

I think if you teach people at the beginning of their careers, this is going to be tough, and you will see, hear, smell, touch, experience events that are going to be powerful and maybe even overwhelming. That's part of what you're signing up for. We want you to be aware of that. We want to prepare you for that. 


At the same time, we want to tell you that we have your back. There are ways that we can help you cope with things if they're tough because some of us have gone into our professions not really being aware. Like, look, this can harm you. And not just physically. If you're a law enforcement officer, I think people understand you could be killed. Or a firefighter or whatever, intensive care unit nurse, like my wife, for example. 


We don't necessarily go into our jobs, especially if we're younger, thinking we could be harmed psychologically from this work. Do you still want to do it? Here's what could happen. So, we'll be doing, of course, but we just want to be reasonable. This is hard work. You are not going to get out of this 100% of escape. Something is going to happen. It's going to be overwhelming to you. And when it does, we will help you. It doesn't mean you're weak. It doesn't mean you're weird. It doesn't mean there's something majorly wrong with you. And then be ready to provide that mentorship, help, support if it's needed. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

You mentioned earlier that someone you talked to about the traumatic events of the State Fair for stage collapse recently asked if they were weak. I recall that a week or so ago on our Wednesday night call with Kim Colegrove, who unfortunately lost her husband, who had recently retired, David Colegrove, to suicide a few years ago. And this is something she says firmly and repeatedly is that you know, "Wellness is not weakness." Wellness is not weakness. 


Kimble Richardson: 

I loved it. When she said that, I even wrote it right here on this piece of paper. You can't see, but I wrote down some quotes that she said that night. That was a powerful presentation. That was one of them. I love that. And again, this happens to people in all professions, all different levels of education, even to the skilled crisis intervention workers. We think we're supposed to be tough, and we think we're not supposed to get bothered by things. We think we're weak if we have to step down or take a step back or not accept assignments. And that's just not the case. That is a great message. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Kimble, we're about to wrap up our conversation for today. I thought perhaps, as we close, you could kind of give us a vision of the future of behavioral health in critical response. Given your 37 years of experience and the new collaborations and experience and lessons of the pandemic. Could you do that for us? 


Kimble Richardson: 

Sure. I think crisis intervention models and the need for them are stronger than ever. Again, this week was great timing for this talk. I've had all these experiences of the past week, or so that provided some fodder for our discussion. I got a call from someone in Canada, of all places. And they say, "Hey, I got your name from this person or that person. We are starting a wellness program in our organization, and we understand you have some experience leading or helping to lead those groups. What can you tell us?" 


So, people are reaching out internationally to see how we can put these principles into action. I think that it's awesome that we are more connected than we ever have been. To understand that the effects of this past year, maybe just now, are starting to be felt, especially by those who were working in some kind of support capacity or first responder capacity. That's pretty natural that we've been on go mode for about a year to a year and a half. And then, at some point, our emotions can kind of catch up with us. 


That said, as I mentioned before, I believe that people have the capacity for growth even in traumatic situations. I had the great pleasure and honor of being involved in lots of crisis intervention work/missions. I called them missions this past year and a half. One of which resulted in the creation of a new crisis intervention model that some colleagues and I invented and have written that was accepted in the scientific journal in December. And then, we've used it for about a year and a half now. Several different kinds of cultures and audiences seem to be very helpful and effective in keeping people, again, healthy and in service. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

You probably wrote extensively in a scientific journal but is there a Cliff Note version? Can you explain what was new about it and how helpful it's going to be?


Kimble Richardson: 

The Cliff Notes version is that we call it a check-in model. Not a super sexy name, but you know, kind of calling it what it is. We've not actually, Robert, done this in person. We've done it all virtually. So, it's been live, but it's been virtual. We've had people strategically placed into very small anywhere. Generally, it's not more than groups of five, checking in with facilitators in each group twice a week for 30 minutes each time. 


And then, the facilitators have a series of four questions that they ask the group each time. They answer the questions in a specific way, in a prescribed way. We've done this now for a year and a half. It's usually about week six to eight that seems to be super effective, that generally speaking, we don't go past week six, seven, and eight. It's a model of acute care. But it's a little bit kind of in between a support group and a traditional CISM debriefing, called a check-in model. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Another helpful and hopeful thing that's come out of the pandemic. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Who would have thought? 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Congratulations to you and your team on the development of that and on the publication in the Evidence-based Journal. That's outstanding. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Thank you. Thank you, Robert. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

I've had a great time with this conversation, and I'm sure our listeners did as well. I think it's probably time to wrap up. So, if you have any closing comments, this is your chance. 


Kimble Richardson: 

I'm going to come back and talk about fashion. That's another interesting thing. Let's talk about crisis and fashion. Well, as you can tell, I like to joke about things. But in all seriousness, some of the techniques that you have promoted, you've taught me, I've used, taken to heart, know they work anecdotally, but also, I can tell from everybody who's joined in on our group this past year and a half. I thank you so much for that lifeline, Robert. It's been so helpful to me. Thank you. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Well, thank you, Kimble. We're grateful for your leadership and your service to our first responder and to our community. So, thank you. 


Kimble Richardson: 

Thank you. 


Robert Ohlemiller: 

Be well.

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