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What are the important roles that crisis response teams play? Travis Nipper is joined by Dr. Laura Stith and Dr. Randy Siler who lead the Crisis Response Team in Clermont County, Ohio. They share on a broad range of topics from the genesis of their team, to how they support school communities during crisis.

Listen to Episode 10

This week our two guests are Dr. Randy Siler, a special education supervisor for the Clermont county educational service center and Dr. Laura Stith, chief clinical officer at child focus inc (1:13)

Dr. Laura Stith begins by providing background of her education in clinical psychology at the University of Cincinnati as well as her 26-year tenure at Child Focus, where she is currently in the role of Chief Clinical Officer, overseeing all behavioral health programs. Additionally, she has been co-leading the Crisis Response Team (CRT) for 20 years. (1:50)

Dr. Randy Siler then takes over to provide insight of his education and experience. Also a UC graduate, he specialized in school psychology before graduation where he then went on to practice school psychology for 8 years before moving to a supervision role where he has been for the past 33 years. He is also a co-founder of the Crisis Response Team and has co-lead for a total of 26 years. (2:43)

Diving into the CRT, Dr. Stith breaks down the concept of the CRT and its founding. Stemming from the tragic loss of a high school student in the 90s, they contacted Child Focus who came to help the school handle the situation. After developing a plan on the fly, they determined that it was necessary to determine a more structed way to handle these devastating occurrences (3:50)

Randy then jumps in to note that they started with an investigation of how schools have prepared to handle emergency situations such as those. They found that the universal solution was to call Child Focus, prompting them to put together a team in order to grow their resources and ability to help schools in the county in an organized manner (5:38)

Laura then begins to outline the growth, evolution, and development of the team. She states that this started with an intentional development of the team’s mission: CRT is a group of caring individuals from various social service agencies committed to joining with communities in crisis in order to share the burden of grief and to facilitate the process of healing. She goes on to attribute their success to the community aspect of the team. (6:50)

Next, Travis asks what has changed in their approach to what they do. Randy responds by noting that they learn something from every response they make. They subsequently enter into a debrief to talk about where they can improve on moving forward. (8:42)

Laura piggybacks off that answer to note that they have responded to 173 different crises in their 26 years, all valuable learning experiences. She stresses that their core mission has always stood firm over the years. (10:00)

She continues by outlining the training under the NOVA model, or National Organization of Victim Assistance. It’s three key parts to intervening are safety and security, ventilation and validation, and finally, predication and preparation. (10:42)

Dr. Siler goes on to describe how he approaches elementary students compared to middle and high school students. For secondary school, they create a centralized location where the students can be surrounded primarily with a closer group of trusted peers (12:50)

Shifting gears, Laura responds to Travis’s question regarding the goals and objectives of their services. Primarily, it is a facilitation of grieving in order to prevent long-term stress reactions in people (14:29)

Randy adds that their secondary goal is to gain the support and trust of their local school districts in order to give advice on how they should intervene during different crises. (15:49)

Dr. Stith notes that their top crises responses are motor vehicle crashes, sudden deaths of adults, and suicide. She goes on to state that their goal is additionally, to prevent any further suicides (17:00)

Next, Travis asks for their advice to parents who have children experiencing a crisis at their school. Dr. Siler shares that they have developed a resource for parents that aids them with how they can provide support (18:35)

Laura adds that it’s vitally important for parents to talk to their child about the crisis regardless of age and regardless of their emotional proximity to the tragedy. She instructs them to answer their kid’s questions honestly, simply, and directly as well as encourage them to engage in self-care activities (19:38)

Finally, Travis introduces the mic drop for this episode, starting with Dr. Siler. He notes the difficulty of crises response as well as the importance to partake in self-care as tertiary victims who are aiding the primary and secondary victims. (22:30)

Dr. Stith proposes that the team is there to begin the healing process rather than to make the situation go away. She urges listeners to recognize that they can play a role by never underestimating the power of letting someone share their story. (23:40)

In conclusion, Randy and Laura share their contact information which can be found just below the episode. (24:30)

Guests:

Dr. Laura Stith – 513-752-1555

Dr. Randy Siler – siler_r@ccesc.org

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