Curbside Manner: Stress First Aid for the Street is a new and exciting way to approach and care for the citizens we encounter every day.
Citizens often find that the treatment they receive from firefighters and EMS providers positively influences their experiences during and after a fire or medical emergency, and increases their capacity to recover and move forward in its aftermath. The support people need to get through such an event starts with their very first encounter with you, the emergency responder. Those who see you as a source of support will be more cooperative, more able to regain their sense of control and self-efficacy (the feeling that they can cope with what is happening), and be better able to recover from the event. In return, they can also become your strongest supporters and advocates in the community.
First responders are highly trained and highly skilled in doing the things that need to be done in most types of emergency. However, what the citizens you assist will remember most is not what you did as much as what it meant to them that you came and did it. They may not understand or remember the technical aspects of your job, but they will never forget if you made them feel they mattered.
Just as doctors talk about “bedside manner,” it is your “curbside manner” that really makes the difference. Aspiring physicians learn early in their medical educations that patients won’t care how much the doctor knows until they can ascertain how much the doctor cares. This is clearly what separates the great doctors from the good ones. It is also what people see in firefighters and EMS personnel that makes them more than just first responders, and makes even your most routine response seem heroic to the neighbor you help.
Curbside Manner is designed to help first responders bring out the best in every citizen encounter. Its primary purpose is to help you add an extra dimension of service and care to the work you do every day. But it is not just a “feel good” approach to community relations – it is based on empirically identified principles from more than two decades of research into what helps victims of accidents and disasters recover from those experiences.
What Is Curbside Manner: Stress First Aid for the Street?
The principles taught in Curbside Manner are also the core principles of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Stress First Aid for Fire and EMS Personnel (SFA) course. SFA was initially developed as a peer support model for use in military operational settings (Combat and Operational Stress First Aid or COSFA). SFA adapts the military support model for fire and rescue organizations, and is intended to help firefighters and their leadership care for their own in times of acute distress such as following a line-of-duty death, a multiple fatality incident or other potentially traumatic event (PTE). Curbside Manner uses the same principles to help emergency responders in their daily work with the citizens their serve. It not only helps to improve customer care, but also ensures that these principles will be easier to remember and use when peer support is needed.
The Curbside Manner framework incorporates simple, supportive actions that can be used as needed with distressed or disoriented individuals and families. These should be integrated into occupational duties in a natural, seamless way and implemented only when they do not interfere with your primary responsibilities and actions. While they may involve only a small amount of effort, these actions can make a huge difference in how readily the citizens you serve recover from the stress of what has happened to them. Equally important, providing a more compassionate and helpful level of care can make you feel better about the quality of care you can give.