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New trauma team meets specific needs

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Training Wing now has a traumatic stress response team that would respond following a potentially traumatic event. 

It replaces the critical incident stress management team. Unlike the CISM team concept, TSR is specifically tailored to the needs of the unit or individual given the particular potentially traumatic scenario. 

A potentially traumatic event may include an air or ground mishap involving loss of life or major injury or threat of death or injury, as experienced first- or second-hand by a group or individual. The main purpose of the team is to foster resiliency in those who may be exposed or have been exposed to potentially traumatic events so they can quickly and effectively recover and continue to focus on the mission. 

The TSR team provides pre-exposure preparation training for individuals who may be at high risk of exposure to traumatic stress. This is training designed to facilitate psychological preparation for scenarios the individual is likely to experience, because everyone is vulnerable to the emotional impact of intense duty-related stress. Unit leaders may also request this training for their troops. 

Following a potentially traumatic event, the TSR team is equipped to offer undocumented group and individual sessions of education, consultation and psychological first aid to those who've been exposed. This includes the option of referral should the individual require more intensive services. The level of services needed is determined by unit commanders in collaboration with the TSR team chief. 

Another difference between CISM and TSR is that under the latter, services are voluntary. This is because not every individual exposed to a potentially traumatic event may require the services in order to cope in a healthy manner. However, a commander may mandate the unit attend the educational component of TSR services following a potentially traumatic event. 

The TSR team is composed of a life skills support center mental health provider serving as team chief, a chaplain and chaplain assistant and a community readiness consultant from the airman and family readiness center. 

The TSR team is designed to support the needs of the base, surrounding community, neighboring bases and deployed settings. The team is on call 24/7 and can be initiated through the command post.