European Guidelines for Psychosocial Support for Uniformed Workers – dissemination in the Czech Republic
Police psychological assistance has been available in the Czech Republic for 19 years, firefighter psychological assistance has been available for 9 years. During that time we have gained much experience in the area of supporting police officers and firefighters in critical stress. Likewise in the health sector we have recently witnessed increased efforts in building the system of psychosocial staff support (particularly in emergency medical services, but also in the case of urgent admissions). Psychologists of the Security Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (MoI) have long been involved in international projects for development in this area, including long-term cooperation with the IMPACT foundation. Common guidelines for providing psychosocial assistance to uniformed workers had been missing in Czech practice.
On 17 May 2012, an expert seminar was held at the MoI entitled “Psychosocial Support for Uniformed Workers – European Guidelines and New Trends”. The main objective of the seminar was to inform Czech professionals of the guidelines and newest best practices.
The seminar was organised by the Security Policy Department of the MoI and was professionally backed by psychologists of the MoI, the General Directorate of the Fire and Rescue Squad, the Police Presidium, and experts from the Ministry of Health as well as from the Department of Psychology at the Charles University in Prague.
The event was held for psychologists and crisis interventionists from Czech security forces and other professionals, and was attended by 48 people. The guests included representatives of experts from the security forces, the army, the health sector, the Czech Red Cross, and universities. The seminar was also attended by experts from Slovakia.
The guidelines will also be presented to other professionals at expert workshops of psychologists from the Police of the Czech Republic and the Fire Rescue Squad as well as in Czech periodicals specializing in security issues.
The seminar was initiated by the director of the Security Policy Department of the MoI, Mr. Martin Linhart, who reported on the international expert cooperation of psychologists of the MoI, the good practices and the long-term experience in the field of psychosocial assistance in the Police of the Czech Republic and the Fire and Rescue Squad. He also reported on the opportunity for the organisation of the seminar, which was the preparation of European standards entitled “Guidelines – Psychological Support for Uniformed Workers”. The Czech language document was prepared and printed by the Dutch IMPACT foundation.
On the occasion of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the devastating floods in the Czech Republic in 2002, the guidelines were symbolically baptized with water from the river Vltava. The ten-year period, which has passed since the extensive natural disaster, can be characterized by a rapid development of psychological support to people who have been affected by incidents in the Czech Republic. The field of disaster psychology in the Czech Republic has been continually developed at the MoI for ten years. One of the key partners that provide the latest know-how in the field of post-disaster psychosocial support is the IMPACT foundation.
Stepan Vymetal and Julie Buzalkova
Security Policy Department
Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic