The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2012, March 24-25

Metro CISM Team

Paired with Team Pegacorn

What we do (our services):

Metro CISM offers a continuum of volunteer lead services to address the stress management needs of emergency services personnel. Our services are offered in preparation for and response to critical incidents. Recognizing that emergency services personnel are disproportionately exposed to critical incidents - we exist to meet these needs.

Services include:

- Pre-incident training and education to build resistance to stress

- On-scene defusing to support immediate resilience

- Post incident debriefings to speed recovery

- Information and referral to ensure ongoing supports are available for continued recovery.


Who we are:

Our services are provided by volunteer emergency response peers representing law enforcement, fire, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), dispatchers, department chaplains, and mental health professionals. Peer support builds credibility, models the importance of actively addressing trauma, and provides practical methods for healthy stress management. Participants consistently express a high level of satisfaction with the peer-support model with added value of clinical consult and direction of trained mental health professions to ensure high quality services.


Why we do what we do:

A vast majority of emergency response personnel (87%) report physical or emotional impact from a critical incident. Many of these responders rebound through the support of family, friends and department colleagues – others, however, require additional outside support. It is these individuals who are served through defusing, debriefing and 1:1 peer support provided by the Metro CISM Team.

What new functionality we are looking for

Our current platform is on Jumala - which is not user friendly and requires significant paid staff time (redirecting funds that could otherwise be used for programming). We also maintain a second site for our "paging system" which essentially is an SMS system that generates a "page" to all of our team members when we need volunteers for a critical incident stress debriefing or defusing.


We'd like to have the following functionality:

- Merge our 2 websites into one site (or help us streamline our 2 sites).

- Have a site that continues to offer SMS paging of our volunteer team members and allows for tracking of volunteer participation/response to paging.

- Have a platform that is user-friendly/can be maintained by volunteers so more money can be directed to programming (ie - clinical training of emergency response volunteers).

- Have file sharing capability that is accessible to team members (for team guidance used in the field).

-Easier updates to these documents/web-content as edits on the current platform are (at best) arduous (and sometimes flat out impossible).

- Online forms for Training Requests (currently police and fire departments can request training online by filling out a form and submitting it on our website... would like this functionality to continue to be available).

- Registration on website for trainings (if possible - or streamlined to sites like Eventbrite).

How the new functionality will help

We are largely an organization that is "virtual" in operation. Much of our infrastructure is dependent upon technology and we're operating on increasingly outdated systems. Having an updated website would allow us to better engage our volunteers, track participation of volunteer team members, have our website managed by volunteers versus paid staff, direct limited funding to programming versus maintaining our site, and make tools of our work more readily available to our team members. We'd also anticipate that our services would be viewed as more professional and credible as we increase our marketing outreach and presence.

Lastly - and potentially the most impactful - is marketing of some of our conferences/trainings that produce earned revenue (about a third of our income is generated through our annual "Bill Meyers" conference and our paid trainings). Having a professional web-presence would build credibility to this earned revenue strategy and any added capacity to facilitate outreach would undoubtedly support our earned income.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_cismbefore Thumbnail_cismafter

18 Messages from Supporters

2012-02-21 16:26:24 UTC
Scott E. Crandall

Having recently lost a Brother in a non-line of duty death I can attest first hand to the value of the Metro CISM Team.

Too often we focus on the obvious physical injuries and neglect the mental and spiritual health of our employees.

I stand in full support of the Metro CISM Team and ask for your support and partnership in ensuring that information and access to the Metro CISM Team website is current, clear and concise allowing those in need to quickly access the team at a time of need.

Scott E. Crandall | Fire Chief
West Metro Fire-Rescue District
4251 Xylon Ave N
New Hope, MN 55428
Telephone 763.230.7001
Fax 763.230.7029

2012-02-21 12:05:05 UTC
David Lee, Fire Commission

The Metro CISM Team has provided services for our department on several occasions when we have had civilian deaths on the fire ground and firefighters seriously injured. The Team has responded, in some cases, within a few hours and provided immediate support to our personnel. Almost every police, sheriff and fire department as well as emergency medical responders in the metro area have used the Metro CISM Team. Dealing with the pain and tragedy these providers see far too often does build and compound stress and does have an affect on these first responders. The Metro CISM Team provides an invaluable service of support, compassion and understanding to their peers. After utilizing their services and seeing the good they do, I have become a very proud member of the Team.

2012-02-21 02:43:48 UTC
Detective Corinne Becker

As a member of the Metro CISM Team, I have been lucky enough to work with police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service workers (peers) as they struggled to understand how a really bad call deeply effected them.

Society expects and demands emergency workers to not have emotions as they futily try to bring a drown child back to life or as they calm the chaos left behind at a murder scene. They are the ones who symbolize calm in the middle of the storm, pretending they are not affected by what they do, hear or see.

The Metro Team provides a framework for emergency service workers to process the emotions that they are not able to have in the heat of a call. No one goes into emergency services hoping to end up a cynical, heartless person. But repeated, untreated stress can make someone turn into that person.

I consider myself lucky to work with people struggling with grief and confusion as a result of the daily challenges of their careers; careers they chose to enter because they want to help people. The Metro CISM Team helps peers work through their emotions so they can continue to meet and survive the great challenges of their careers and the enjoy the greatest reason for joining emergency services- to help others.

2012-02-21 12:34:02 UTC
Steve Carlson, Emergency Sevice Chaplain (35 years working in Emergency Services)

In the 20 years I have served with the Metro CISM Team I have repeatedly been told by Emergency Service Providers how helpful it was for them to be able to come together and talk about the issues they face dialy. Whether in a small group or individually respnders are assisted as they process calls or other concerns.

The Metro Team structure that makes a variety of specialties available (peers, mental health, chaplains) gives individuals options of who they want to work with. Team members are available 24/7, whenever they are needed.

In an environment that reeks havoc on the professional and personal lives of Public Safety professions, it is a BIG plus to have these resourcs.

2012-02-21 13:50:12 UTC
Bernie Vrona, Firefighter, Fire Instructor, Former Social Worker

The Metro CISM Team could definitely utilize your assistance to revamp our website. The website is a conduit for team members to connect with the organization as well as fire, police, and Emergency Medical Services departments and individuals in need of our volunteer services. It is also the primary education and connection point for Emergency Services Organizations to determine what we do and how to contact our organization for further information.

The events that require our services happen without warning at all hours. The quicker a department or individual can get to us, the faster we can serve their needs. The current website needs to be re-developed to allow individuals and departments to more easily find the information they need so we can respond appropriately.

Thank you for your consideration.

2012-02-21 15:05:36 UTC
Richard Flaten, Police Sergeant

Law enforcement and firefighting are both professions steeped in tradition and pride. They are also steeped in stress and tragedy. Imagine a profession where you go to work knowing you will see mankind at its worst and the same people you have the honor to serve may want to hurt you. I have spent more than 27 years as a police officer and 15 years as a firefighter. During that time I have seen large changes in the way we do business. One of the most important areas we have forged into is taking care of the front line personnel that have hands on with the worst possible things in life. Stress can kill individuals, relationships and happiness.

Having said the above, we now look to the modern day times and the benefits of the Metro CISM team. THis group of volunteers use their free time to care for their peers and their profession. What better thing can a person do in their spare time then care for those they know and love who are hurting. Very few professions have personnel willing to donate their precious free time to save another persons life and relationships. The Metro CISM team takes this to the next level in the services that they provide. Look at this from another perspective. Our military is responsible for protecting the United States from the from outside threats and there are national organizations to deal with stress issues like PTSD that soldiers suffer. Law enforcement is charged with protecting the United States from within and saving us from ourselves. Reaching out to those in need is one of the most important things to the process of curing and caring for those in trouble. The Metro CISM Team, since it is a volunteer organization, needs all the resources it can get to reach out to those who are suffering and modern technology allows the Metro CISM team to touch those who need help. The internet is where just about everyone looks for those resources and a useful website can be very instrumental to saving those who save lives of a daily basis.

Please consider your generosity in providing the website resources to be a life saver for the life savers.

2012-02-21 15:19:20 UTC
Debbie Brown, Episcopal Priest, Chaplain, Eagan Police Department

The Metro CISM Team, through education and direct contact with first responder agencies, provides strategies for healthy living in professional and personal interactions. Metro CISM Team members volunteer their time, committed to supporting their colleagues especially in the aftermath of critical incidents. The Team website is a primary resource for first responders. Having a website that not only is dynamic in stype and information presentation but also easy to navigate is of significant assistance to our first responder peers. I ask you to consider funding the team effort in this specific area of internet dissemination of information: our Metro CISM Team website. Thank you for your consideration and generosity.

2012-02-21 16:24:03 UTC
Sergeant Steve Wickelgren - Minneapolis Police Department

I have been a volunteer with the Metro CISM team since about 2002. I also provide the same services directly for the Minneapolis Police Department in my work as the department counselor. I provide counseling services to MPD officers as well as officers from other agencies at times. Minneapolis is the largest department in the state and most of the time I handle the work that Team ususally does for almost all other agencies in the Metro area. When Minneapolis has an incident like the 35W bridge collapse, I call the Metro CISM Team for help.
In my work, one of the issues I come across with police officers is their inability to say no when they should. They are "helpers" and it sometimes becomes an issue with their own health and wellbeing by increasing the likelyhood of depression and/or anxiety. The members of the Metro CISM Team are really not that different. We sometimes say yes too often. Keeping track of work, home, part time jobs, extra duty, and volunteer obligations can sometimes overwhelm team members. Having a web site that makes scheduling, meetings, notices... easier to manage and access can lower the stress levels of team members, and I think that just knowing we are keeping up with technology gives team members a morale boost. Thanks for considering the Metro CISM Team
Sgt. Steve Wickelgren MA LMFT

2012-02-21 21:38:21 UTC
Brian Peters, Commander Brooklyn Center Police Department

The Metro CISM team has been invaluable to the health and wellness of our police officers, fire fighters, first responders and dispatchers. Our department has leaned on them several times to help our brave men and women navigate through difficult times. Without these dedicated volunteers, our first responders are left to deal with pain and emotion alone unless they seek their own help. Over years of experiencing death and other horrific events, first responders have a difficult time recovering. Early, immediate intervention is needed for the healing to begin and this is what CISM does. I want to Thank them for their dedication and devotion for giving first responders somewhere to turn.

Please consider helping the Metro CISM Team with a redesign of their website. This is truly a group that deserves it.

Commander Brian Peters

2012-02-22 02:39:16 UTC
Joe Meuwissen, Retired firefighter & practicing School Psychologist

I have had the opportunity to both receive and participate in the delivery of CISM services as a 20-year paid-on-call firefighter and 8-year Metro CISM Team member. I have seen firsthand the positive impact that these services have had on emergency services personnel after a tragic event. I have heard veterans of many years of service to the public in police, fire, EMS, and public safety dispatch express deep appreciation for the CISM intervention they had just participated in and asking why these career-saving procedures weren't provided to them years ago during a different crisis event. They expressed how it would have made such a difference to them and their families if these services had been available after a traumatic fire or accident or homicide when they were first on the job. While our Team continues to grow and improve in our delivery of support services, the demands on our volunteer organization continue to increase while our budget faces extreme challenges and we fight to survive as a viable group. Please help us project a strong web presence to our emergency services community through a redesign and improvement of our website! This is an important tool to reach out to our peers and to provide information and support during a crisis. All hail the Geeks! Thank you for your consideration of our needs.
Joe Meuwissen, Deputy Chief (ret.), Bloomington Fire Dept.,
School Psychologist, Bloomington Public Schools.

2012-02-22 04:22:48 UTC
Kathryn Abram, Sergeant (Ret.) and

During a blizzard on Christmas Eve in 1979, I had an old man sit with me in my squad while we waited for a tow to pull his car out of the ditch. We had a lovely conversation while we waited, and he told me how he was enroute to Rochester to bring his wife home from the hospital for Christmas. When he didn’t answer a question, I turned to find him dead of a massive heart attack. I tried desperately to save him, but it was no use. To this day, my fingers lose feeling in the winter from the frostbite I suffered while performing CPR on him on the frozen roadway. Every Christmas, he is with me.

As a detective in the mid 1980’s, my primary job for four years was solely child abuse investigations. Day after day, it was abused, broken and sometimes dead children. I saw horrible things, lived daily with the pain of those victims, and had no one to confide in. It was a dark time in my life.

In 1996, when a deputy in our department was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver, I felt the overwhelming pain of losing a part of our “family”. It was devastating, and the debilitating effects to our department lingered for years.

When I had the chance to join the Metro Team in 2007, I saw the opportunity to help others receive the help that I never received..that my co-workers never received. It’s such a simple thing for someone to tell you that what you feel is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, and such a powerful thing to hear. I want to know that we, as a Team, can be there so that other first responders don’t have to feel the absolute loneliness that I felt doing my job. I want them to know they have someone who understands their pain and confusion, and can help them find their way in the darkness.

The job that first responders do asks them to perform miracles and bear witness to the worst of society. Isn’t that enough? Must it haunt them and sometimes even ruin their lives? We on the Team say “no”. It’s enough that they are good public servants and give of themselves beyond the “call of duty”. They should be able to unload the emotional burdens of their jobs and ease the strains that the job places on their families and communities. We’re there to let them know they are not alone, that we are all one “family”, and that the job they do can be the toughest, and most rewarding, thing they’ll ever do.

Kathryn Abram, Retired Sgt. Dakota Co. Sheriff's Office, and Mental Health Team member

2012-02-23 22:24:15 UTC
Mike Dobesh, Assistant Chief St. Louis Park Fire Department

The Metro CISM Team provides a high level of service to the agencies it serves. They quickly provide aid to defuse a "bad day" and very effectively debrief agencies when the time is right.

Not only would the Metro Team benefit from receiving a grant to update their website, but all the people they touch would benefit also. An updated website allows the Metro Team to communicate their message to a broader audience and allows them to establish internal communications. I can imagine a public servant going to the website and having the ability to connect with a team member for peer support or find information on dealing with that "bad call". That is a great resource for public safety personnel.

As a former Metro Team member, user of their services, and advocate for what they offer, I fully support them and this partnership they are working to establish.

2012-02-24 03:27:32 UTC
Garett Flesland, Sergeant with the Brooklyn Center Police Department

I have been through a couple of critical incident debriefings with the Metro CISM Team. Each time I was able to walk away from the session able to sleep much better at night…each time I was able to stop reliving specific parts of incidents over and over and over in my head. During one of the debriefings, something seemingly little and insignificant was said that instantly clicked in my head…it helped me to “clear up” an issued I had been having with an unrelated incident that I had never realized until that moment.

I strongly recommend that the Metro CISM website be chosen to receive support to make it more effective and efficient…and to free up their resources to focus on the specialized and critical support and care that First Responders deserve (and need).

2012-02-24 14:03:16 UTC
Kevin Rofidal, Training Coordinator - Edina Police Department

Our agency has a long history of utilizing the Metro CISM Team. The team has provided training in prepartion of critical incidents and post-incident support after several incidents in our community over the years. A newly designed website would be beneficial, especially with training registration process. Websites need continualy updates to stay fresh looking and any assistance would be helpful.

2012-02-24 15:10:58 UTC
Rodney Seurer, Chief of Police - Savage Police Department

I have been in the law enforcement profession for 33 years and have seen alot of changes since I was a rookie. One of the changes that I have seen within the past several years is how we assist those officers that are either directly involved in a critical incident or for those who have been affected by a critical incident. In years past we were too proud to show our true feelings and were advised to move on without any assistance. Our officers have witnessed some tragic events within the past few years and most recently a serious traffic accident involving one of our officers who suffered a traumatic brain injury. The Metro CISM Team responded immediately and worked with the public safety personnel who were on the scene and then worked with public safety personnel who were not on the scene but were just as much affected by the accident. This is just one of the incidents in the past 4 years that we have requested their assistance. We are very fortunate and very appreciative of the professional services that the Metro CISM Team provides.

2012-02-24 20:27:33 UTC
Lt. Mike Harcey, St. Louis Park Police Department

Our deparment has utilized the services of the Metro CISM team a number of times over the last 10 years. We have benefited from the training provided to prepare for critical incidents and have received support after critical incidents involving our officers. We are fortunate to have the team available to serve our officers with such care and compassion. The team and the first responders they serve would greatly benift form an updated website to expite coordination of services and training.

2012-02-25 01:53:42 UTC
Brent Richter, MSP Trooper (retired)

We ask a lot of those who serve in emergency service. For most folks they see the screaming ambulance or fire truck race by; see the police officer directing traffic; or the glamour, excitement, and intrigue of shows like CSI, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, and yes, even Mayberry RFD (for us older folks). What the public does not see is the toll that being in the emergency response field takes on the provider or their family. The unseen tragedy--the silent killer of emergency service providers-- is work related unresolved acute stress.

As a MN State Patrol trooper and crash reconstructionist, I investigated over 1,500 fatal or serious personal injury crashes, gave between 60 and 80 death notifications, and was involved in a dozen on-duty crashes myself, so I saw first-hand the positive impact that the Metro Team had on responders. After being retired due to injuries spanning my MSP career, I answered another call to serve those people I have been proud to work with for 30 years – Police, Fire, and EMS personnel. I joined the Metro CISM Team after obtaining my Master’s in Counseling Psychology and have helped continue the truly lifesaving work and career enhancing work begun 25 years ago by this organization. The Metro Team operates on a shoe-string budget and without the gracious support of people like those involved with the Nerdery, our ability to continue the international outreach that has occurred thus far will be compromised.

Over the course of the last few years, members of the Metro CISM Team developed a critical incident response protocol that was presented at last year’s International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) World Congress in Baltimore, MD. That presentation sparked interest for attendees that spanned many countries and we have received not only laudatory comments, but more importantly, requests for additional information so it can be copied, adapted, and implemented across the United States. I very strongly urge and passionately request favorable consideration of our request to be amongst those chosen this as a recipient of the overnight web challenge.

2012-02-27 05:28:56 UTC
Cindy Anderson, Paramedic and RN

Several years ago, while working as a Paramedic, I responded to a particularly difficult "child death." After experiencing three days of sleeplessness, repeatedly replaying the event, and having several other post event stress reactions I was given the opportunity to attend my first debriefing. After attending the debriefing I was back to sleeping that very night. The intrusive thoughts stopped and I was back to functioning at a performance level I had come to expect of myself. The Metro Team debriefing team gave me an important gift that day. They normalized the stress reactions I was having. There skillful facilitation gave all the emergency providers present at the debriefing an opportunity to support and learn from each other.

Our Mission

Mission Statement: We serve those who serve others: The Metro CISM Team provides trained peer support to emergency responders to effectively build resilience and manage critical incident stress for healthier lives, families and communities. _____________________________ Our Vision: A fully functioning and healthy community of emergency responders who have the tools to manage the stress of their work and personal lives and advocate stress management to their peers.