FCTRT’S Origin Story
Event: Stamford, Connecticut Christmas Day. On December 25, 2011 at roughly 5:00 AM there was a residential fire that ended in 5 fatalities, 3 of them children.
There were 75 firefighters involved on that call; initial response, additional trucks called in, recovery of the bodies. Even as they did their jobs, the firefighters were feeling the weight of this call. Dealing with fatalities is a part of the job, but when children die it is especially difficult. Add to that it was Christmas morning, a day that should have been joyful.
A series of bad circumstances left the firefighters without emotional support. They were unable to reach their EAP (employee assistance program), a local crisis team refused to respond on Christmas, even the fire house clergy couldn’t be tracked down.
Two of the firefighters reached out to metal health professionals that they knew were trauma informed. In two days, we had a team of seven people at the Stamford Fire Department Headquarters and started meeting with groups of the firefighters whom were on that call. We followed up by offering pro bono therapy and the Stamford, Connecticut Trauma Team was born. We met and decided we needed to organize so that we could respond quickly for any future events. We spent the year getting organized and defining ourselves. We were planning an anniversary event for the Stamford Fire Department when the Sandy Hook School Shootings happened. On December 14, 2012, 20 students and six adults were killed in a school shooting by one adult. We held a support meeting for Sandy Hook therapists the next day and became the Fairfield County Trauma Response Team overnight. We provided over 250 hours of pro bono psychotherapy as well as support groups for First Responders and community members including: Law enforcement (FBI Agents, State Troopers, Police), EMS, Hospital staff, Clergy, Sandy Hook elementary students and parents, Teachers, and local Psychotherapists.
- Offer three pro bono sessions following community traumatic events and natural disasters
- Facilitate workshops at regional First Responder organizations, with curriculum specifically designed to arm First Responders with tools and techniques to support themselves, their teams, and their families
- Host free, on-going support groups for First Responders and their families to offer continuing personalized support for their unique experiences.
- Advise the development of and then mentor peer support groups within Public Safety departments
- Practice evidenced-based, trauma-informed mental health treatment
The process is three-fold:
- Develop and maintain an organized and prepared county-wide network of EMDR clinicians who are ready to respond to a natural or man-made disaster with Early EMDR Intervention treatment.
- Provide training and development of network clinicians in state-of-the-art emergency response and Early EMDR Interventions that are being used successfully in the field all over the world.
- Develop liaisons with First Responder organizations and Emergency Response teams. Educate the disaster response community about the benefits of utilizing Early EMDR Interventions. Learn how, together, we can improve mental health services and provide best practice treatment to those who are victims of trauma.
FCTRT is committed to making a difference in the lives of our members and our community by addressing the wounds of trauma. This commitment is affirmed in our strategic plan which has diversity, equality and inclusion at its core. Let us reach out to one another and heal the wounds of historic and present-day trauma.
What is a Trauma Response Team?
Our Trauma Response Team (TRT) is a permanent, expandable team of volunteer EMDR clinicians who are ready to respond with quality intervention.
We are constantly building a trained, organized and permanent team. By doing so now, disaster team clinicians will be in place knowing what to do and when to do it. We provide early EMDR intervention as well as help in the recovery phase of a disaster when the natural resiliency has served most people and those remaining with stress symptoms need something strong and effective.
Early EMDR Intervention works…
FCTRT Inc is a team of Fairfield County licensed, seasoned trauma therapists, trained in EMDR treatment and disaster response.
Our Primary Function
To serve First Responders; to provide them with training to identify trauma symptoms and to provide trauma treatment. Fire, Police, EMS, Medical Professionals, Mental Health Clinicians, Teachers, Clergy and Town Government Officials are all included in our definition of First Responders we work with.
Local Networking: Outreach to local Emergency Management organizations and participate along with the Emergency Services Network.
Local Disaster: Screen clients, provide trauma treatment sessions and arrange for continued care as needed.
Accomplishments: Since our inception in 2011 we have been deployed to four local disasters and offered many training sessions including:
- Covid-19: Continue to provide support and mental health treatment to Medical personnel, Clergy, Funeral Directors, Nursing Home staff as well as EMS, Firefighters, Police, and Therapists.
- Local school district: Held several trauma trainings to understand student suicides
- Newtown/Sandy Hook: Provided treatment to children, families, Teachers, EMS, Fire Fighters, Law Enforcement, Hospital staff, Clergy and Psychotherapists.
- Public Safety Officers: Led 162 pro bono training workshops for 36 First Responder organizations, reaching over 3,200 individuals.
- Local Clinicians: Offered 10 free or reduced fee trainings to mental health clinicians, with over 350 participants
- Held our first Clinician/First Responder day-long conference: Trauma and Recovery for First Responder Communities. Coming together: Firefighters, Police, EMTs, Nurses, Physicians & Therapists
FCTRT Inc Clinicians
Karen Alter-Reid, PhD, Co-Coordinator 203-329-2701
Michael Crouch, LCSW Co-Coordinator 203-961-1152
Linda Rost, LCSW, Co-Coordinator 203-762-7970
Deborah A. Augenbraun, PsyD, MA
Jennifer K. Baumgold, LCSW
Bob Broad, PhD
Nick deSpoelberch, LPC
C. Susan Feuerwerger, LCSW
Cathy Fisher, LCSW
Jane Kistler, LCSW
Michele Lucas, LCSW
Susan Marcus, LCSW, SEP, HHC
Liz Modugno, LCSW, LADC
Stacy Raymond, Psy. D
Bonnie Rumilly, LCSW
Dawn Roy, LCSW
Libby Schrieber, LCSW
Kimberly Sharpe, MA, LADC
Paige Stetson, LPC
Barbara Vogel, LMFT
Kate Wheeler, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN