Peer support allows colleagues to support one another and can be a good form of early intervention.
Peer support, informal or formal, can be an important element of wellbeing for employees, and only a fellow officer or firefighter can provide some forms of understanding and comfort.
In agencies considering the development of a peer support program, peer support teams should be formulated based on a selection process and then proper training. Peer support team members can then use their personal experiences, along with the training, to build trust, familiarity, support, and allegiance to a fellow officer or firefighter.
Many aspects of public safety and emergency services involve interdependence, the need and desire to watch out for each other. This should not only apply to activities that include dangerous physical situations or critical incidents, but also to an employees’ emotional wellbeing and needs.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has a sample policy available for forming your department’s peer support program. Departments can also consider a peer support policy template from the BC First Responders Mental Health Committee.