Staff volunteer around the clock as part of Traumatic Incident Support Team
Staff volunteer around the clock as part of the Traumatic Incident Support Team

Keith Charles Press and Glenn Robitaille
When you run a 24/7 operation, things can happen at any time, and services and supports need to be available 24/7 too, not just during business hours. One of the services Waypoint patients and staff have at their disposal every day and night is the Traumatic Incident Support Team or TIST.

TIST is a peer-led trauma support initiative that launched in 2008 to provide around the clock support to staff and patients. TIST members come when called, after hours, in the middle of the night, on holidays and weekends. It is a voluntary service of skilled and concerned Waypoint employees that are specially trained in advanced level principles of Critical Incident Stress Management and Psychological First Aid. 

“In the past year I have been personally privileged to provide 130 hours of support, with 75 of those hours occurring in direct, one-on-one conversations with individuals who have been impacted,” says Glenn Robitaille, TIST Lead and Director of Ethics and Spiritual Care. “Other members have given nearly as many hours. We are deeply humbled by the trust our colleagues have in us and the many opportunities we have been given to provide support.”

In Waypoint’s highly complex treatment environment, serious events can occur. Some serious occurrences are more likely to evoke trauma in those who directly experience them than others. “But trauma is not defined by the seriousness of an event,” notes Glenn. “Trauma results when normal coping capacities are taxed to the limit; and it is no respecter of persons. When our personal vulnerabilities are exposed and our ability to control our environments is overwhelmed, trauma is the result. No one is immune, and everyone has points of exposure. TIST is available to provide support and education at such times.” 

“When you’re working in healthcare, it’s important to support the caregivers and TIST is just one of the ways we’re doing that,” says Terry McMahon, VP Human Resources and Organizational Development. “This initiative is part of the programming available through our psychological health, safety and wellness program which is a major focus for our hospital for the next three years and has a whole breadth of supports available to staff.”