Guest blogger: Brad Cole, CFE & LPI, Executive Director & Senior Coordinator, K9 First Responders, Inc. (K9FR)
A crisis unfolds. A hurricane hits your facility. You prepare and respond.
So far… under control. A natural gas line ruptures, fire starts and an explosion occurs. 5 dead and 10 seriously injured. A crisis becomes a tragedy.
Well-rehearsed response protocols kick in. Textbook…as practiced.
Wounded receive medical treatment, families of the deceased are informed, treated with kindness and respect. Funerals and vigils held. Appropriate “needs” support provided to the victims, their families and survivors.
The damaged parts of the building are secured and made safe. You establish an alternate business operations location. Your company’s internal and external messaging is spot on.
All the boxes are checked. Because of your prior emergency planning, disruption of business operations is minimal given the scope of the damage and loss of life. Within a week…there is some semblance of normalcy on the horizon. But is there?
Did you have a psychological trauma response plan in place that started as soon as the fire was put out? Is it a trauma informed plan?
Organizations often rely upon an employee assistance program (EAP) to help after a crisis/tragedy. EAP is an employee benefit program that assists individuals with personal problems and/or work-related struggles that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being. However, are the EAP staff crisis trained and trauma informed?
More often than not, the answer is no. To be certain your team gets the supports they need, you need to ask the right questions: what is their expertise in crisis stabilization, community-based short-term crisis care, peer crisis services, and mobile crisis services?
And if they are trauma informed, the client organization more likely than not hasn’t included their EAP in their crisis/disaster exercises. Why is this important? The physical recovery and operational resilience portion of your business is an objective based approach. You can easily observe and track your progress.
What about your most important business asset, your employees? How do you know what they are going through? Do you presume they will seek mental health assistance? Will that help be appropriate in nature? For those who don’t seek help, how do you connect and engage with them to help ensure no one falls through the cracks?
A social psychology theory by Kurt Lewin states: Behavior is a function of personal internal factors and external environmental factors. We can observe the environmental factors after a hurricane/fire/explosion. But can you know all your employee’s internal factors?
Related: What is “resilience”?
Unknown internal factors can be; loss of a house due to fire, a loved one lost in a prior drowning, or a relative who dies in the hurricane. Will these be individual triggers?
What plan do you have in place to connect and engage with all your employees?
Finally, how was your EAP provider impacted by the hurricane? Are their resources spread thin due to the needs of their various clients? Were their personnel impacted by the storm?
Your employees are the heart of your business. They make “you” who you are as an organization. Work is a major part of a person’s life. There are as many friends and loved ones at work as there are at home. It is up to management to have a well thought-out and exercised mental health crisis response plan in place, ready to deploy, right along with the other aspects of business crisis response.
“Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.”
― S. Kelley Harrell, Gift of the Dreamtime – Reader’s Companion
Brad Cole, CFE & LPI
Executive Director & Senior Coordinator
K9 First Responders, Inc. (K9FR)
K9FR subject matter expert and thought leader. He has 36 years of experience in the security, crisis management and investigative professions.
K9 First Responders, Inc. (K9FR) is a Critical Incident Mental Health Support (CIMHS) organization. K9FR Teams bridge the gap between a traumatic event and the connection to mental health services. A compassionate presence leveraging the human-canine bond helping restore a person’s emotional and cognitive equilibrium.
Notable deployments include Sandy Hook shootings, Boston Marathon bombings/shooting and Smyrna, DE prison takeover, hostage taking and homicide.
Brad is a Certified Fraud Examiner, Licensed Private Investigator and Security Consultant. He attended Champlain College and Northeastern University for AS Law Enforcement and BS Criminal Justice.
30 year member of the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). Credentialed in Security Force Management, Post Traumatic Stress Management, and a member of the Boston Medical Reserve Corps.
Brad is owner of Diogenes, LLC, a boutique investigation agency specializing on business and legal investigations.
Mr. Cole is K9FR’s subject matter expert and thought leader. He has 37 years experience in the security, crisis management and investigative professions.
A responder to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Mr. Cole’s deployments include Pittsburgh, PA synagogue shooting, Boston Marathon bombings, Las Vegas concert massacre, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as well as peer support for public safety. He was deployed to Smyrna, DE to assist in the aftermath of the 19 hour prison siege, hostage taking and homicide.
Mr. Cole is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), Boston Medical Reserve Corps (BMRC) and Boston Public Health Commission – Office of Public Health Preparedness – Disaster Behavioral Health – Crisis Response Group. Group Leader for K9FR’s Rapid Intervention Go (RInGo) Team. He is a member of Critical Incidents Teams for PD, FD, EMS, and DOC as well.
Certifications include Psychological First Aid (PFA), Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program Specialist. Mr. Cole is also Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and principal of Diogenes LLC; a boutique investigative agency focusing on white collar crime.
K9 First Responders, Inc. (K9FR) is a non-profit Critical Incident Mental Health Support (CIMHS) organization. K9FR Teams bridge the gap between a traumatic event and the connection to mental health services. A compassionate trauma informed presence leveraging the human-canine bond helping restore a person’s emotional and cognitive equilibrium. They currently serve 100+ agencies across 7 states.