Blue Line


June 26, 2012  By Gabriella Myra

The Canadian Critical Incident Stress Foundation (CCISF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other disabling stress suffered by emergency personnel.

Emergency service (ES) workers face situations that most people could never imagine and these events often have a profound effect on their physical, emotional and psychological well being. Tragically a greater number of first responders die by their own hand then in the line of duty.

The negative effects of unchecked cumulative stress and traumas are due in large to the lack of self-awareness on how to develop effective and healthy coping strategies. That, coupled with personal and family stress, can sometimes be a recipe for disaster.

Almost all our police safety-related training programs are designed to teach officers how to think and act tactically and fight using the tools of their trade, within the guidelines of the law and their respective departmental policies. Officers are trained and called upon to make split-second decisions during intense, ever-changing events – decisions that can and probably will impact them for the rest of their lives.


Despite training and technological advances, the reality is that the stress of the job or the horror of a particular incident, such as an officer involved shooting, can have profound effects, no matter how trained, conditioned and experienced they are.

{Critical incidents}

A critical incident is any event, or a series of cumulative events, that cause a person to experience unusually strong emotional reactions that have the potential to overwhelm normal coping abilities. Usually tragic or traumatic, they are often referred to as a ‘critical incident.’


PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event(s) that result in psychological trauma.

The CCISF mission is to lead through research, stress management programs, service providers, critical incident stress management teams, trainers and resources, enabling and enhancing crisis response in assisting ES personnel involved in or exposed to traumatic events.

The CCISF will also assist in supporting and developing the essential structures required to develop successful peer support programs within emergency services, community organizations and businesses by providing cost effective training and education. By using best practices CCISF will deliver the highest level of support to peer programs, education, training, conferences and mentoring.

In accomplishing this mission we hope to reduce the lasting and often debilitating effects of PTSD and accelerate recovery.

It is our sincere honor to represent those service providers across this country who dedicate themselves to preventing and mitigating disabling stress.


Gabrielle Myra is the assistant director of the CCISF. Visit for more information.

Print this page


Stories continue below