IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – The Idaho Falls City Council approved a contract between Creekside Counseling and first responders on Monday. Creekside Counseling is providing Critical Incident Debriefings to our first responders on an ‘as needed’ basis and will be facilitated free of charge.
This approval by the City Council puts into writing a formal agreement that has been ongoing for a few years between Creekside Counseling and Idaho Falls Police Department. Therapy services for first responders began under Captain McBride after a police officer died by suicide. The Idaho Falls Fire Department has entered into the agreement within the last 18 months after a national uptick in firefighter suicides.
Creekside Counseling recognizes the trauma overload many of our dedicated public safety personnel encounter in the line of duty and the need for mental health care for these individuals.
A critical incident is defined as “an event in which a first responder, while engaged in the line of duty, sustains, witnesses, or is in close proximity to a sudden death, severe physical injury, or an emergency that poses a high likelihood of severe physical injury or death to any person,” according to the professional services agreement as approved by the City Council.
The agreement states Creekside will offer annual or semi-annual wellness interviews to Idaho Falls first responders. Wellness interviews will give first responders the opportunity to engage in a conversation about their individual mental health with trained providers on a one-on-one basis.
According to the agreement, “Training topics may include self care, stress management, recognizing signs and symptoms of distress, conflict resolution, giving and receiving feedback, personal and professional resilience, healthy coping mechanisms, effective communication, emotional regulation, depression, anxiety, addiction, PTI, relationships, and burnout.”
In order to establish a trusting relationship with our first responders, Creekside staff have engaged in ride-alongs with police and fire personnel.
We will be speaking to first responders and Janet O. Allen, clinical director of Creekside Counseling to better understand the need and importance of these services.