"I was almost certain the crew felt comfortable with these guys. They looked like hotshots, acted like hotshots because they were hotshots…"

Critical Incident Peer Support

Critical Incident Peer Support (CIPS) is about peers, or "people of mutual respect," helping each other, for example, firefighters helping firefighters. The shared experiences of peers foster the initial trust and credibility necessary for developing relationships in which individuals are willing to open up and discuss their reactions and concerns after a critical incident.

firefighters putting their drip torches together for a toast

What We Do

Correctly trained and clinically supervised Critical Incident Peer Support Groups provide many services, including situational assessment for agency administrators, managers, and others, to help determine the appropriate crisis intervention response. A methodical evaluation ensures that tactics are applied at the right time, in the right place, and under the right circumstances. We provide the leadership to times of uncertainty into ultimate order. We offer licensed Mental Health professionals (clinicians) experienced in trauma and meet our screening and experience criteria. Read More

Three Folsom Lake Veterans Crew Members in fire gear on a fire

Training and Certification Standards

Training is a critical aspect of ensuring consistency and confidence in peer supporters. Specific training needs are developed in association with the defined roles of each Critical Incident Peer Support Group member. Critical Incident Peer Support Groups and Critical Incident Stress Management Coordinators (CISM Coordinators) providing crisis intervention services for BLM and BIA personnel will be trained and certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundations (ICISF). Read More

Limitations to Peer Support and Road to Resiliency

The use of peer supporters is not a substitute for the services of mental health professionals. It must be established and understood that peer supporters augment clinician services but do not replace them. Not everyone is suited for the role. Some individuals may be unwilling to talk with peers because they question their credibility/validity, know them well or are too closely associated, want to see a professional, or are concerned about lack of confidentiality.

The emphasis of peer support must be on managing stress, not the stress itself. It is easy to fall into the trap of sharing ‘war stories’ when speaking to those in crisis in an attempt to underscore many of the unique ways stress presents itself following a critical incident or trauma. Stressful stories told to stressed-out people can often compound the trauma by having the opposite of the desired effect. People in a crisis have no emotional reserve to hear someone else’s crisis story.

However, when the most significant emphasis is on managing stress with a sincere desire to foster growth and resiliency, natural healing and change can occur with lifelong positive implications that impact the individual in crisis and their family, friends, and peers.  Read More

two females blue sky

Critical Incident Peer Support Groups

A well-established and professional CISM Program selects only the best and most qualified for each assignment, including trainees. Those selected must be credible, experienced, trusted, and held in high esteem. In addition, they must be sensitive to diversity and multi-cultural components within the agencies.

female wildland firefighter wearing helment

Who is a Peer?

A Critical Incident Peer Support (CIPS) Group member is a highly respected and trusted person from different organizations or specific functions within the national wildland fire agencies. A peer is a person that has received specialized training in the principles of peer support, endorses specified ethical standards, and functions under clinical supervision.

For more information about becoming a Peer Supporter refer to your agency contact.

Links and Other Information

Recruiting and Screening Peer Supporters

It is crucial that oversight of a CISM program is continuous and that peer supporters are carefully screened and appropriately trained. Therefore, the selection process may include a review of applicants’ interests and motivations for being peer supporters, such as their previous education and training, personal exposure to traumatic experiences, and the responses to those experiences.

Additional Information

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation

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National Alliance on Mental Illness

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American Telepsychology Association

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» Center for Disease Control

Other Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


1-800-273-TALK (8255)

» Read More

Treatment Referral Service


Free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service.

» Read More

Veterans Crisis Line



Read More

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Branch of Wildland Fire Management

3833 South Development Avenue t malesuada Boise, ID 83705

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