Bulkley Valley Critical Incident Response Team enters 25th year

The team offers support for the first responders and community members after a tragic event

Some members of the BVCIRT team celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary in a group photo. (Submitted photo)

Some members of the BVCIRT team celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary in a group photo. (Submitted photo)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Bulkley Valley Critical Incident Response Team (BVCIRT).

The BVCIRT is a team of volunteers working in conjunction with mental health professionals and provides peer-run interventions for first responders, fire department, police, ambulance service, search and rescue, hospital, as well as, community members who have been involved in or have witnessed a critical incident.

The goal of the CIRT program is to help individuals manage the impact of a critical incident, facilitate normal recovery processes, and restore adaptive function with minimal impact to themselves, their family, their workplace and their volunteer activities.

BVCIRT is the longest running community Critical Incident Stress Management Team in all of Canada and consists of 21 volunteers, five of whom are new members as of 2019.

The team has assisted hundreds of people in the Northwest since 1994 with incidents such as suicide; multi-casualty incident or accident; serious injury or sudden death of a colleague; a prolonged incident, especially when resulting in a loss; any incident involving children and events that have an unusually powerful impact on personnel.

READ MORE: Proceeds of crime, repurposed for good

BVCIRT was born out of necessity. In 1994 a helicopter accident west of Houston claimed the lives of the Buchfink family who were well-known to the Smithers area. This incident and others that followed highlighted the need for supports for first responders and community members after a tragic event. To fill this need, the BVCIRT team was formed and since then has been providing services for first responders and their families when they are dealing with the various forms of stress related to a critical incident.

The volunteer-run team focuses on facilitating recovery and improving resilience and provides defusings, debriefings, crisis-management briefings, interventions, as well as post-action staff support for team members. These facilitations include doing peer-on-peer support with triage check-ins, exploring wellness and self-care, discussing typical symptoms and reactions to traumatic events, coping strategies and talking about support resources.

On Sept. 14, BVCIRT got together to celebrate 25 years of helping the community with a barbecue at long-time volunteer Deb Chatfield’s home. In attendance were many volunteers who have served over 20 years with the team, one of them being Bruce Ramsay, a world-renowned trainer and the team’s clinical supervisor who came from Vancouver for the event.

“Being part of this team has changed lives and I look forward to continuing to be a peer and helping others through some of the more difficult times they go through and to lighten some of the burden that can weigh them down,” said Karen Wilson, a volunteer with the team for over 20 years.

Volunteers and the team’s umbrella society, Northern Society for Domestic Peace, were recognized for their contributions over the years.

In support of the 25th anniversary, the team received some heart-warming letters from organizations they have helped over the years:

“The professionalism and efficiency demonstrated by the members of the Critical Incident Response Team is a testament to their thorough training,” said Aldea Lavallie, community relations manager for Pretivm. “The empathy and dedication shown by the team of volunteers proved invaluable as we navigated through a challenging time. The Bulkley Valley Critical Incident Team is an asset to the region and we at Pretivm cannot express our appreciation enough.”

Laurence Turney, Telkwa Fire Rescue chief was similarly complimentary.

“As a past client of BVCIRT, we have benefited significantly from the team’s timely response to our volunteers’ needs in times of crisis… BVCIRT has provided training and information to our members’ families, helping them in dealing with critical incidents and the stress caused by those incidents. I believe these services provided by BVCIRT have been instrumental in reducing the effects of stress on our members and their families. The volunteer members of Telkwa Fire Rescue, and their families, wish to thank BVCIRT and the volunteers that make up the team for their efforts over the past 25 years and continued success into the future.”

READ MORE: Housing for women and children fleeing violence

Sgt. Darren Durnin, formerly acting detachment commander of the Smithers RCMP said: “Having experienced first-hand the negative impact critical incidents can have on persons directly involved with critical incidents, I place a lot of value on ensuring the officers involved, along with our support staff, have a mechanism in place to mitigate the negative impact.”

The organization has helped hundreds of people get through traumatic incidents for the last 25 years. Although they continue to do tremendous work, they do not have ongoing funding for the program. They rely heavily on grants and volunteers and are sometimes unable to meet all of their obligations if they don’t have enough available bodies to respond to traumatic events.

BVCIRT would love to thank all of their volunteers and community members who have provided ongoing support. Your work and dedication has been invaluable to the community and the team looks forward to continuing their work into the future.

Submitted article

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fentanyl was among the drugs seized by New Hazelton RCMP in a big bust in early January. (File photo)
New Hazelton RCMP arrest five, seize drugs and large amount of cash

Police find suspected heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth during early January drug bust

Smithers Local Health area reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 for the second week of January. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 32 in Smithers LHA Jan. 10 – 16

Northern Health reports 35 new cases for 501 active, 44 hospitalized, 17 in critical care Wednesday

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Smithers Secondary School students participate in a high performance workout in advance of the school becoming a campus of the Canadian Sport School. (Thom Barker photo)
Smithers Secondary chosen for campus of elite sport school

The Canadian Sport School provides supports and resources for high performance athletes

Robin Price in action with Thompson Rivers University women’s soccer team. (TRU photo)
Former Smithers athlete helps Kamloops homeless people

Robin Price, now a fourth year nursing student and soccer player at TRU, spearheads fundraiser

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Most Read