Responding to acts of terror that create mass casualties and draw great amounts of media attention, place a strain and drain on EAP resources. We rely on our local response networks to provide primary and secondary EAP CIR. There is a great demand on a limited supply of trained responders. Every EAP and crisis response vendor is calling into the area to secure providers for their EAP clients. Some do this as soon as the incident hits the news by asking providers to be on stand-by and make themselves available for extended hours and return services if needed. Others, do not do anything until the call from the EAP client comes in and by then, they are playing catch up. They must now scramble to find providers. What do you think happens when we exhaust this supply? Two things- the rate of secondary trauma is likely to increase due to increased fatigue levels of responders willing to keep on going, and/or second, untrained professionals are added to the mix.
It is not unusual for me to receive calls from professionals I’ve trained who are or will be onsite for support and guidance. Several calls from the Orlando area, for instance, shared that there were multiple providers onsite with little to no response training. They were told to “show up and run grief groups”. That there was little to no plan set up to coordinate their services. I am always amazed by this. It speaks poorly of our service. We have to realize that sending anybody is not necessarily better than nobody.
There are many sources of resilience available for employees that they should be connecting to while our response is being planned. An EAP well trained in resilience, builds this into their response. Their thoughtful guidance stabilizes the impulsive/reactive atmosphere that can initially set a high demand for counselors. Don’t get me wrong, we do need a response. Having trained professionals on site to provide crisis intervention is helpful as it also builds the perception of wellness and organizational support, but we have time and this brings me back to the supply.
When I ask providers in my workshops how many EAP networks they belong to, I have heard a range of 5-40. When I ask them how do they determine which EAP or vendor they will offer their services to when multiple calls come in for response services, two answers emerge in no particular order; who pays the most and who they like the most. In other words, partnership with the EAP matters. The next EAP meeting, discuss these two motivators. Sometimes it is not about pay, but how you treat your responders- before, during and after. I once ran a survey on provider’s integration with EAP services as it relates to EAP CIR and almost universally, providers receive no feedback after an incident. Did they do a good job? Were their efforts well received? Is there some constructive criticism for the next time? Nothing. Providers want to hear when it went right not just when something went wrong and now they are being investigated. This is a great opportunity not only for closing out a response service, but for partnering as well.
The range for response pay varies and while many will tell me it is not necessarily the amount, but the message behind the amount that matters. That a low rate demonstrates a lack of respect, knowledge or insight for what they actually do and the skillset they bring. This discourages partnership.
The supply and demand issue will not go away anytime soon. There will be more mass casualty events. There will be requests to send counselors. Setting operational expectations through pre-incident training, and based on front-end, thorough assessments, offers the best utilization of resources. If this is something your EAP cannot invest in, then my suggestion is to start calling early and often. The race is on.
Remember, the research is still the same- most bounce back to pre-incident levels of functioning without formal intervention. Even for acts of terrorism. We can do harm if we disrupt the natural, organic, resilient processes by throwing untrained counselors into the mix.
We encourage utilization of your primary providers who are established in your networks. They will be the most reliable. If you use a vendor, stay involved and active in the coordination and oversight. It is their job to provide trained responders and they are dedicated in doing so. As an additional resource, RDA has developed an interactive MAP that lists EAP CIR providers who have been trained in the Multi-Systemic Resiliency Approach (required). This is an exclusive list. Not only are they trained in MSRA, but in the EAP mission as well. Just enter the zip code or city/state and names will come up for you.
This list is in constant development. It is free to be listed and free to access. It is offered to all professionals upon completing the MSRA training. We want to access response professionals who are trained in the latest research (resilience) and understand the EAP mission.
We encourage EAPS to speak directly with their providers throughout the response – planning, execution, and post-intervention. This is partnership. Each system working together to make each other successful. Access the MAP from the home page of www.eap-rda.com.